American Gods by Neil Gaiman : Mini Book Review

American Gods

American Gods

10 words or less : Overrated. Unbelievable situations. Good sections, but twists visible miles away.

Long version : I need to preface this by saying I am not a fan of deep-end fantasy books. Magic, enchanted objects, and out-of-the-butt mystic speak?


Characters who are supposed to be gods relating to humans with the equivalent of “Oi m boyo! C’mere and have a beer!”?

Hell no.

Having said that, I picked up American Gods by Neil Gaman based on the multiple four and five star reviews on Amazon as well as critical praise on the jacket cover. General fiction is fine with me, so I thought I would give this book a try.

The book is about the “American Gods”… gods that were brought over to America by the immigrants who believed in them. As the people who believed in these gods blended into America’s culture (or flat out died), the transplanted gods withered and turned mortal-ish.

Que Joan Osborne.

Anyhow, some “new” gods eventually appear on the scene, and they were (off the top of my head) the god of computers, credit cards, TV, media and “Mr. World”.

Wait! It gets better!

The “new” gods are tired of the old gods hanging around taking their mojo. So a “storm is coming”… as every single character says over and over and over and over.

The main hero, Shadow, is the chosen one. He has a hobag of a woman who keeps showing up for him a lot like Jack Goodman did for David in the movie American Werewolf in London. Except this character is played seriously.

On a side note – Shadow. Who the hell names their kid Shadow?

Anyhow, fantasy ensues. A few plot twists and pages and pages later, “the storm is here”.

Not to ruin anything, but the book didn’t have Mohamed or Jesus in it. Every other god with a popular identity shows up throughout the book, and most get to fight in the big finale, so where were the top two representatives of the current religions? If the god of computers can be a card carrying member of the almighty god club, where the hell were the big players in this book? Where was THE big capital-G God in all this? If gods exist just because people believe in them, shouldn’t the capital-G God, Jesus and Mohamed have been in this book putting the smack down?

See, stuff like this is why I can’t read these kind of books.

The book has the main character travel through America as part of him finding himself and his allies, but you’ll get more “real” America from Alton Brown’s road trip series.

It was entertaining in sections, and the writing style flowed fairly well. A few chapters were really imaginative, but most of the chapters were tedious and overly detailed. I see the author was going for a slow buildup over the 600 plus pages of the book, but I could see the “twist(s)” coming five chapters away. Even in the dénouement.

I recommend reading the first few paragraphs of the Wikipedia page on “American Gods” that summarize the book to see if it’s for you. American Gods won the Hugo and Nebula awards (among many other sci-fi specific writing awards), but it was nothing more than moderately entertaining summer-like reading for me.

Three out of five stars.

News stories the mainstream media missed 09/26/09

Here are some news stories from this week that I think the mainstream media completely missed out on. All links are from legitimate news sources and not the fringe / wacko sites.

* Dannon to reimburse customers for misleading advertising. Turns out statements in its marketing and advertising materials for Activia, Activia Light, DanActive and DanActive Light were deceptive. As in completely made up. Ain’t the truth a pain in the ass? [FOOD BUSINESS NEWS]

* Mandatory H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine for the military are imminent. Oh, good. Because on the off chance something is wrong with the untested and very-rushed to production flu vaccine, we want to infect those with the automatic weapons and heavy artillery first. [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE / MILITARY HEALTH SYSTEM]

* FDA issues strong warning about those “fallen and I can’t get up” lifeline pendant buttons. Turns out they may be a choking hazard if they get caught on something. If only there was… some way to call… for help… when that… happens! [FDA]

* Google approved sub-group now shows you how to completely delete and remove all of your personal data from…. everything Google. Looks like they are really standing behind their “don’t be evil” mantra! But couldn’t they still have a backup copy somewhere? The details are all in the FAQ. [GOOGLE / DATALIBERATION.ORG]

* The french want bold printed notices on all photoshopped images in print advertising stating they have been digitally enhanced. Finally! I seriously think this is long overdue! The only problem I see is that advertising agencies are about to get a big kick in the nards on this one. [TELEGRAPH.CO.UK]

* Al Gore has just gotten a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000. Clever, manbearpig. Very clever. [WALL STREET JOURNAL]

* USA Network has announced the departure of star Vincent D’Onofrio (Robert Goren), Kathryn Erbe (Alex Eames) and Eric Bogosian (Danny Ross) from Law and Order : Criminal Intent. You know. The main stars. Julianne Nicholson is also out for good measure. Everybody got killed at once? I’m not buying it. Someone get CSI on this.  [THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER]