Book Review: “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman

AG5 out of 5 Stars

Years ago a friend recommended I check out Neil Gaiman’s novels and one in particular called “American Gods“. At the time I had a little child that I was raising and wasn’t finding a lot of time for reading. As he has gotten older I am finding a bit more time to take in longer books that have been on my reading list for a while. I take advantage of the time when I am waiting for his activities to finish.

On a recent trip to Costco I found “American Gods” in their book section and decided it was time to crack that spine and immerse myself into this crazy world of mythology, adventure, mystery – a journey that is equal parts exploration and self discovery. There is a good deal of sex and satire throughout the book and there are some gruesome bits just to cover all of the bases (it makes sense though in this story and isn’t just gratuitous). Mr. Gaiman is such an amazing storyteller and keeps you hooked from page to page, chapter to chapter.

The story begins with our main protagonist, Shadow Moon. Shadow is finishing up a prison term for aggravated assault. With 5 days left and a sense that something wasn’t quite right, Shadow is called into the Warden’s office and is informed that he will be getting out of prison a few days early because his wife had just died in a car accident. On his way home he runs into flight diversions and cancellations and ends up in first class, sitting next to a man called Mr. Wednesday. Wednesday asks Shadow if he will work for him and Shadow declines as he thinks he has a job waiting for him at home. He leaves Mr. Wednesday after the flight, yet Wednesday keeps turning up. Shadow learns that his best friend, who he was to work for, died in the same car accident as his wife. With his life being turned upside down and the realization that there is nothing left for him, Shadow finally agrees to work for Wednesday and this is where the adventure begins. After burying his wife Shadow and Wednesday set off on a road trip, attempting to get various Gods to join their cause in a war that is brewing.

There are lots of twists and turns throughout the story, lots of side stories and tales of how the different Gods made their way to America via Viking ships, slave ships, through the First People who lived here and from many other cultures around the world. I can see why it has been so highly acclaimed and won several awards. I really enjoyed the journey it took me on. I loved the mythology and the mystery as well.

I highly recommend the book and it is a relatively fast read. It really got me thinking about the things I “worship” which has been interesting to ponder. I am not talking about a religious worship, but take a look at that cell phone. I use it a lot.

The Starz Original Series debuted while I was reading the novel – I recorded it so I could watch it once I was finished reading. I find the show follows the book pretty well so far. It feels more brutal and bloody than the book though (this may be due to the way I envision things versus the directors imagining the story) and there are things that have been shifted around and added or deleted in typical adaptation style. I am only 4 episodes in so far, but my husband is enjoying it as well (and he hasn’t read the book). Heads up, if nudity isn’t your thing you might want to pass it up. There is full frontal of both men and women in the show and there is sex shown.

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