American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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Rate: 5/5


Medium: Audiobook


Overview (No Spoilers): Growing up I was very lucky to have a group of friends that enjoyed reading as much as I did. My friends significantly influenced my reading topics during my formative years from our romance novel phase to obsessing over Merlin and King Arthur. The phase that lasted throughout late middle school and has ever a soft spot in my heart was mythology. We read everything we could get our hands on regarding Greek mythology and eventually broadened into Norse mythology. With laying the foundation regarding my fond background regarding the aforementioned subject, Luke and I were looking for a new TV show to binge when he recommended we try American Gods due to the glowing reviews it had received. While I’d known it was a book by Gaiman, I’d never picked up this novel despite my friend Kari’s glowing reviews even though she never steers me wrong with regard to books. While Luke was less than impressed with the TV show, I was hooked after two episodes, especially as the mythological premise was slowly unveiled. Needless to say, halfway through the first episode I was logging into my local library and reserved a copy of American Gods. After binge watching the show, I eagerly anticipated my hold at the library being called, curious to see how Gaiman originally set up this highly touted literary world. Instantly being drawn into the audio version of American Gods, I could not stop listening to Shadow’s unexpected cross country adventures. In the forward we learn that Gaiman traversed the same route as our protagonist, whether it was in northern Minnesota or Ruby Falls, which served to add an element of depth to the resulting descriptions as though we were viewing these locations directly through the author’s eyes. As a Michigander, I appreciated Yoopers getting a shout out, as well as their custom fare of pasties. Also, Ruby Falls drew forth fond nostalgia of road trips with my family. Gaiman describes how for hundreds of miles before the falls, billboards can be found advertising this natural wonder. I remember this billboards as a kid, which worked to peak my brothers and my interest, ultimately resulting in us convincing my parents to stop by this tourist trap. With regard to the novel’s content, American Gods was truly unique, capturing my fascination and curiosity regarding this world in which Gods follow their believers into new lands, which brings new perspective to the ‘melting pot’ description of America. This novel also emphasized the role of modern Gods, such as Media and Technology, who both draw on the attention of the masses on whole. Expounding upon that same thread, I couldn’t help but ponder what Gods might exist in the field of science within Gaiman’s literary world. As a whole, American Gods easily claims a place among my favorite books of all time. With the plot unfolds in a seemingly straightforward manner, Gaiman delightfully sprinkles breadcrumbs along Shadow’s route, foreshadowing the twists to come. Gaiman hinted in the forward that he would like to revisit this realm in the near future to find out what Shadow has been up to since we left him in American Gods. Until we are treated to a new novel, the show will have to suffice as we watch this tale come to life. Deviating slightly from its original source, the show is blessed with exquisite casting, causing the characters jump right out of the pages, additionally benefiting from the development and flushing out minor characters who grow with in their new roles, such as the feisty lovable leprechaun, Sweeney. Overall, American Gods branches out into so many genres that it would easily capture the imagination of a wide array of readers.


Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • What is the God situation like in other countries?
  • The Hall of Forgotten Gods was so fascinating to ponder upon.  It is interesting to think about the sheer quantity of cultures that came before us and their beliefs that are no longer relevant.
  • I wonder why Gaiman chose to focus upon the Norse Gods and Egyptian Gods. I kept expecting the Greek Gods to show up, e.g., Zeus, Aphrodite, Ares, Athena.   Perhaps the next novel will touch on them?
  • Will Shadow find love again?
  • Does Shadow have powers of his own or did they come from Wednesday?
  • What will happen to Lakeside now that their God was killed and they were no longer having human sacrifices?
  • How did Wednesday find Shadow? He was running into Gods like crazy once Wednesday did find him. Was he always running into Gods or was this something new once Wednesday recognized him?
  • Will Wednesday stay a ghost or will he return?

 

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43 comments

  1. This truly was a spectacular read. Definitely ranked up on my favorite book list. I was so pleasantly shocked in a way that a book hadn’t done in years. Now I’m gearing up to read Gaiman’s Ocean At The End Of The Lane.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This book is so polarizing for a lot of folks that it’s always fun to see a reaction, good or bad. It just felt like this wonderful sprawl of a book. Anansi Boys is the other novel set in that universe, though it’s not a sequel. It’s aesthetically a very different book. Good in a different way. There are a couple of short stories with Shadow, but I’m not a short story person, so I haven’t read them, though I probably should.

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  3. I believe the Norse influence arose from a trip Gaiman took to Iceland, where their traditional stories and sagas are still a part of the culture. I can’t blame him. Iceland seems to have overwhelmed the other countries I’ve been to in my mind, even though I know far less about it than I do about the UK. I don’t know where the Egyptian influence came from.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “What is the God situation like in other countries?” I think this is a fantastic question, especially since we get just a hint of it at the end of the book. I am moving back to Minnesota soon and plan on visiting the House on the Rock in Wisconsin once I get settled in. I love that elements of the show had to be updated in just the 16 years since the book’s publication; I think this lends credibility to the struggle of the gods since those that were new in the book are no longer as relevant some years later. I was hoping you would review this since it is one of my favorites and you didn’t disappoint (not just because you enjoyed it too haha)

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  5. Gaiman has said in interviews that the Greco-Roman gods have always had the attention that he purposely kept them out/in the background. So I wouldn’t expect seeing them showing up in anything Gaiman writes in the story universe.

    I am “patiently” waiting for the first season to come out on DVD since I don’t have STARZ. I really want the show to do great because I live just east of Chattanooga and I’m hoping that they film on location the events that happen around here.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Interesting! Thanks for the insight. Perhaps bias, I wouldn’t mind seeing a brief mention of the Greco-Roman gods. Makes sense from Gaiman’s writing perspective. I think you’ll really like the show. 😀 The cinematic work is beautiful!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m a big fan of this book. I loved the road trip theme of it, as well as the mythology. I’ve never been to America, so I enjoyed the details of places Gaiman visited researching the book. As you said, we see the journey through the author’s eyes, which become Shadow’s. I wonder how much of Gaiman is in Shadow?

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  7. I read this book a while ago, but I was pretty young back then so I really didn’t understand what was going on or the references that Gaiman made. I’ll probably have to go back and read it again though to be able to fully appreciate this book.

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  8. I wasn’t particularly hooked on this book at the time of reading. However, it has stuck with me over the months and I keep thinking about it at random times. Also, the song “The Sound of Silence” (originally by Simon & Garfunkel, but I also listen to a remix by Disturbed) always makes me think of it with the line “And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they’d made.”

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  9. American Gods is one of my favorite novels. When I first read it I was so excited at the mention of House on the Rock! There are several short stories set in the same world, including one that occurs after the book. There’s also a completely different book Anansi Boys which is set in the same world but spans England, America, and the Caribbean. I have this ridiculous hope that he’ll include Rock Island in the sequel, but probably not.

    If you like Gaiman then you’ve probably already read Stardust, but just in case you haven’t, I’d highly recommend the illustrated version he did with Charles Vess. Those two are fabulous together. The Sandman comics also have a great deal of mythology in them, although I think he improved on Sandman with American Gods.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I really enjoyed Anansi Boys, although it is so different from American Gods that it took me quite a while to realize it was set in the same world. For the short stories, I really liked the Beowulf one. There was one of the others that I disliked, and the rest I felt rather neutral about. It seemed like too much of a teaser, just as I was getting back into the world, then the story would end. Gaiman has some great short stories but I prefer his novels in general.

        The Ocean at the End of the Lane is still on my TBR. One of these days I’ll sit down and read it right through but I just haven’t had the time to commit and know that I won’t be able to walk away from it and get anything else done.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I always like reading your fab reviews because you read on kindle a lot and I read books. You read some different books to what I read and here is the one place I seem to learn a lot about books on your website that I never seem to read.I personally like reading reviews about what other blogger’s read and respect the kind of fiction that a reader is in to. I look forward to reading more of your fab reviews. Happy reading Suzanne.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello! Hello Suzanne! Thank you so much for the very kind words. ❤ I actually read mostly audiobooks now which has been a huge shift for me in contrast to the traditional mediums I had been use to reading.

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  11. Very interesting discussions here! You’ve all definitely piqued my interest in Neil Gaiman. Just today I posted a review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane on my blog! (Cherylbalcom.wordpress.com)I think I will have to read American Gods for sure. 😊I appreciate that you share your questions after reading a book- a nice touch! Will be back to check out more of what you’re reading- I mean, listening to! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cheryl! You should definitely pick up American Gods! I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane a few years ago and remember that it was a really beautiful read. Have you read Neverwhere? Another really good read by Gaiman!

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