Wednesday, December 26, 2012

American Gods

Oh, Neil Gaiman. I am sorry I am such a slow fan. Here I am, absolutely fascinated by Neil Gaiman and the way he works, his creativity, everything else, and yet I am so slow to catching up with his publications. So, it should come as no surprise that I only just got around to reading American Gods. Well, "just got around" is a slight falsehood -- I began reading this book while my area was being hit by Hurricane Sandy. I felt that a story that seemed to obsess over an "incoming storm" seemed sort of appropriate for hurricane weather. It's kind of a long book and I was busy not having power, celebrating Halloween, then writing my little heart out for NaNoWriMo but during the course of one weekend I laid in my bed and read the book from nearly halfway to the very end -- then I slept because my eyes hurt. But that's neither here nor there.

With this review and next week's review on another book by a different author I will be flying my deity loving flag. Apparently I like books that are all about bringing deities of long dead religions back to life and I've only really realized the level of this obsession just now.

My friends, who are much more caught up with the times than I am, have all endlessly praised American Gods. They would gasp and go, "How have you not read this book yet?" when I'd admit to my lack of book reading and finally they have something to be proud about: I read the book and I loved it.

If you have not read this book before allow me to say that Gaiman takes you into his own world while keeping your firmly on the ground of this one. It's like a cosmic road trip of America as our main character, Shadow, is taken under wing by Mr. Wednesday -- a mysterious gentleman who ends up being a former god -- and experiences an assortment of things he did not know was possible within this world.

Alongside a cast of different gods in human form from various religions you do not know who to trust, who is real, who is fake or what corner you'll be turning next. The story at times seems to crawl but my general paranoia of, oh, everyone in the book left me on the edge of my seat even during the slow points. The chapters are broken apart by "Coming to America" sections where different deities are "brought" to America by humans who worshiped them long ago. I enjoyed these sections and thought they were well fleshed out while, at times, while we followed Shadow around it seemed Gaiman let up on description. Coming to America was full of detail and storyline and the regular story of American Gods seemed to lack that at points which was a shame.

Now, I really enjoyed this book and had an all around kick ass time reading about one of my favorite gods, Czernobog. I would probably read this book again. But there was one thing that really bothered me: this entire book is building up to the "storm" that is going to rage over the world. The fight between gods and all that. But when we get to this storm it seems almost too easily brushed aside. The fire is essentially put out by a speech and the gods go home. That bothered me. Of course, what was going on behind closed doors was interesting. A little surprising and yet I feel that if I paid better attention I probably would have figured out the ending on my own. I know, I know, I'm being vague and that isn't all too informative but you'll just have to trust me on this.

The book is worth the read. It is long but you are set up for a long trip of sorts. You'll read about things that you can easily imagine happening and you'll likely wish that Shadow was your friend. He certainly is like a big puppy and is very likable as a main character. This book didn't kick Neverwhere out of its place as my favorite Gaiman book but it's up there as one of my favorites. 

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