Everyone, and everyone, has recommended I read American Gods. They told me it should be my first taste of Gaiman. But, I’m never one to do what everyone tells me. So I picked at Gaiman’s prolific work, reading some of his children’s books, his graphic novel The Sandman series, fell in love with Neverwhere, and even watched him sing with his lovely wife Amanda Palmer on Youtube. Then I decided it was time to delve into the oh so popular American Gods. Chris ordered it on Audible and once he was finished I started listening to the story. It took me a while to get through it because I had just moved to Texas. I read the 10th Anniversary edition, with the author’s preferred text. (Following synopsis from GoodReads)
. . . . Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life. But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.
Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. It is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own.
Along the way, Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life, a storm is brewing – an epic war for the very soul of America – and that he is standing squarely in its path. . . .
According to the author, either one loves this book or hates it. Apparently, Chris and I are not everyone because he found the book just so, so, and while I enjoyed the book, Gaiman’s way with words is quite wonderful, I didn’t exactly fall in love with it. I see the appeal though, Gaiman pulls from many mythologies, across the world, and compares them to those we Americans hold dear. And it’s not football, like you might think. The imagery that Gaiman pulls out of his head and puts down on paper is amazing. I was thoroughly entertained the entire time. Further, I enjoyed the many twists and turns of the book.
What American Gods does is makes one think. What gods do we hold dear, and why? Are they more important, do they compete with the old gods? Is there anything wrong with that?
However, those twists I mentioned? Well, perhaps it is because I’m my father’s daughter, but I saw each of them coming before it was more than a whisper of a thought in the book. I was not at all surprised by the ending. They were excellent twists, they were unusual and captivating, but I guessed a good 80% of them before they happened. This doesn’t make the book less enjoyable, but it is probably why I didn’t fall in love with it.
I did really like this as an audio book. The voice over actors are all very good, and there are many of them, so the different people are all distinguishable. Even though I can tell some of the voice over actors read several parts, they read them differently enough that even before the narrator says who is talking you can tell. That is the hallmark of a good voice over actor to me. Additionally, I wouldn’t have read the book nearly as fast in person because I was only really able to listen to this as I drove to work. Some times it made leaving the car hard, but it was always fun to come back to on the drive home.
I do recommend reading this piece of Gaiman’s work. It is excellent, a contemporary novel with a twist of the supernatural. Like his other work, Gaiman’s book will make you think and ponder the things we have deemed gods. The start is a bit slow, but once the story hits its stride it surges forward and may drag you to the end before you are ready.