Neil Gaiman is a true storyteller. I know of Neil Gaiman from when I read Coraline. Most of the people know him because of his favorite comics Sandman or because his books are often made into movies and TV shows.
American Gods is also one such book. However, there is a common saying among book lovers — the book was better. That holds even in this case. Though, the TV show is also quite good. You should check out the trailer on youtube.
Mythology with a twist
Who could have thought my hiatus from Young Adult Contemporary genre and search for something intriguing would lead me to Modern mythology? American Gods is a book about old gods that are not American but yet at the core of American beliefs. They are living in the modern era, trying to keep up with the world, survive in the society and the new-gods of this materialistic world are their biggest enemy.
The rivalry between old gods whom no one believes in anymore and new gods with a considerable following grows steep when the last wishes to get rid of all the old gods once and for all. The book is not only heavily based on mythology but also laced with horror and thrilling paranormal elements.
Who is Shadow?
Up until now, the story is quite simple. American territory can only have one kind of gods — old or new. Both of them are in a struggle to show their dominance. Shadow, our main character is somehow in the middle of everything. He is witnessing the modern mythology and also contributing to it.
He just lost his wife and has come out of prison. However, what he sees in the outer world is much more exciting and confusing than what he could have expected. Shadow’s strong and shady character makes the book what it is because it is only through the narration of such a nature that this book could uphold the mystery and maintain the intrigue.
However, along with him, Mr. Wednesday and the other gods are also enigmatic. Here’s an excerpt to show you how amazing the entire book is:
“Hey,” said Shadow. “Huginn or Muninn, or whomever you are.”
The bird turned, head tipped, suspiciously, on one side, and it stared at him with bright eyes.
“Say ‘Nevermore,'” said Shadow.
“F*ck you,” said the raven.
Shadow’s wife is another interesting character, and I enjoyed seeing their intense relationship drama running parallel with Shadow’s new job. Also, how can you even work for a god? What can you do that they can’t? These are questions will be answered once you read this book.
Fast-paced and action-packed
The book is interesting from page 1, but once you have understood the premise and what the book is about, then it just picks up the pace. It becomes more enjoyable because of its action scenes and paranormal activities. The weird dreams, brutality and on top of all that, marvelous writing just wins the reader over.
“Every hour wounds, the last one kills.”
The storyline goes smoothly from one scene to another. The dream sequences, half-deal zombie wife, gods with hammers, risky bets and missing kids create the perfect environment for a thrilling read. However, the book does not compromise on, and though it is haunting enough to give you nightmares for days to come, there are also scenes that will make you chuckle time and again.
“The house smelled musty and damp, and a little sweet, as if it were haunted by the ghosts of long-dead cookies.”
I don’t know how Neil Gaiman does justice to the book with his weird writing. However, it does not seem weird while you’re reading it. It just feels different and fresh. He could write about cookie-ghosts and inspire a ‘wow’ instead of a ‘what the hell.’
Mastery of words
Neil Gaiman is a master in playing with words. He uses such incredible sentences to weave a plot that will hook you because it is exciting. He combines mythology with philosophy and tells the story through literary prose. It does have a dark edge to it though.
“Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end.”
His characters are unforgettable because they bring something unique to them. He portrays his characters as something more than just people in books. He perceives them to be legends, and so they become it. Gaiman has been gifted with just extraordinary imagination. However, the best part is that he is a wordsmith who can bring those imaginations on paper in a beautiful manner. He creates stunning images in the minds of the reader while ensuring that the depth of the story is not lost.
Is this book for everyone?
The best part about all Neil Gaiman books is that everyone loves them. For the romantics, there is an element of romance. The book is a delight for mystery-lovers as well. Also, if one takes an interest in mythology, then this book should be on their priority-reading list.
“I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating.”
The show that is based on this book is also quite good. Though, one should read it before watching to be more explicit in their head about the theme. Moreover, this is a single book that has been made into different seasons. So, if you read it first, you won’t have to deal with the cliff-hangers. I spent one entire night staying awake and reading this book. Then another night to stay up and binge-watch the TV series.
About the Author
Pallavi Sareen is an avid reader, a harsh critic, bibliophile, and a dreamer. Accustomed to telling stories, she spends her time amidst the pages of either a book or her diary.