Royce Eddington

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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?

No.

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.

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3 Comments

  1. Jerida

    Since the gods portrayed in the story are ancient gods, with the exception of the new “accidental” gods (technology), I think the reason “THE big capital-G God” is not in the story is because he is now THE god. He needs no sacrifice or followers to be strong. He already is. The other gods are fighting for followers and sacrifice because their followers are dying out.

    • Wow. That’s a great point.

      I really wanted to love this book, but the lack of reference to the capital G /A God(s) bothered me too much. There are Bible references to the book’s premise (Exodus 20:3, You shall have no other Gods before Me : therefore there ARE other Gods) and I think his writing was stellar. But I think just a passing mention of the capital G/A thing would have made the book perfect.

      Thanks again for our comment. Brilliant idea!

  2. 8man

    Clearly the writer of this article is an idiot for too many reasons. Judging a book so negatively because something that YOU wanted wasn’t in it? Not to mention that the inclusion of THE God would have made this such a cliche novel. Gaiman obviously didn’t want to focus on the obvious, and having Jesus in it would have caused so many problems (within the novel as well as with a few brain-dead, sensitive christians and some overly opinionated, equally braindead atheists.’

    Fools! One and all!

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