American Gods 89/100 – Neil Gaiman

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Overview:

American Gods was such a great read, I can’t wait to recommend it to everyone I come across!  It has a little bit of everything you’d want if you’re into mythology, mystery and drama.  Following Shadow across the US was like a trip you never knew you wanted to take and reminded me so much of how much I absolutely hate winter!  Gaiman’s writing was so unique and brutish, but it was so easy to connect and relate with.  It was a refreshing way to write that wasn’t always perfect, but just flowed along at just the right pace. 

Review: (No spoilers)

  1. Concept: 10/10 – Following a god around the country recruiting other gods was such a unique concept.  There are so many gods to choose from and Gaiman definitely had a wide variety that were included.  The book may have been published 17 years ago, but it’s so relatable to today.
  2. Writing: 10/10 – Gaiman has a very unique way of writing a story that puts you right into his head where you’re hearing his thoughts. They may be incoherent or incomplete on paper, but you just “get it”.  The stumbles and fillers that people use when they’re trying to talk are rife in this book, but they completely work!  The one thing that took a while to get used to was the small stories at the end of each chapter.  They didn’t really make sense at the time when reading them, but I’m glad they were included.
  3. How long did it take to get into the book: 7/10 – I was really looking forward to getting into this book after reading some reviews and overviews of the concept of it. I’ve always been interested in different religions’ mythologies and this book definitely covers the gamut of religions.  The one problem I had with the book was that I felt that I should have a study guide with me when I was reading this book as there was so much imagery and foreshadowing that I’m sure I missed a great deal of connections.
  4. Character Development: 10/10 – Shadow had so much happen to him and throughout all of his experiences each major event shaped him to some degree. From start to finish, he turned into a completely different character, but with each event, it was so easy to draw parallels and relate to him that it just sucked you in that much more.
  5. Plot: 10/10 – So many twists and turns! There are numerous subplots within the main plot and every major plotline is resolved satisfactorily in the end.  I think a second read through would be completely different from the first with all the foreshadowing and plot twists.
  6. Pacing: 7/10 – At the end of every few chapters is an excerpt from a different god or deity.
  7. Ending:  9/10 – I don’t want to ruin anything in this section of the post, but wow the ending was amazing. Gaiman did a great job at tying up the loose ends and I don’t really have any burning questions that the plot didn’t answer.  He did write it in a way that opens up some things to interpretation, which I’ll comment at the end.
  8. Cover Art: 7/10 – Depending on which book cover you get, this could go many different ways.  I grabbed this off the kindle store, so I’m going with that.  It’s nothing too special and I think they could have made a lot more with the gods, but it also is very indicative on what’s special to the main character.
  9. World Building:  9/10 – Brrr! I hate the cold, and Gaiman encapsulated everything I hated about Michigan winters perfectly in American Gods.  Just about every different landscape from the book was so vividly described and easy to picture from the different cars where so much took place to the backstage!
  10. Would I read other books by the Author:  10/10 – Absolutely! I have a few books that have come out lately that I need to knock out, but I’ll definitely be reading Norse Mythology soon!

Follow-up Questions: (Contains Spoilers!)

When Shadow gave up his name, what exactly did that mean?  He still went by both Shadow and Mike after he came back.

Are Odin or Loki coming back in America?  I guess people probably don’t really believe in them, so maybe not, but there’s still references to them in pop culture.  The same goes for Thor who died in the 70s in the book.

How did Hinzlemann turn into a kobold.  Did peoples’ beliefs slowly change over time which slowly changed him into what he ultimately became?

How did killing Hinzelemann and creating that pyre make sure that he could leave Lakeside?  If he can come back, why can’t anyone else come back?

This was specifically asked in the book, but I’ll ask it as well.  Why did Wednesday choose Shadow’s mother?

Why did Odin go by Wednesday in America?  Did he die is past lives and give up his name each time?

What exactly is the bull headed man and why do both Shadow and Sam see him in their dreams?

What else happened in the book that appeared to be a characters choice but was ultimately the whim of a god other than what Shadow spelled out for Hinzelemann?

Will the new gods that were killed by Loki come back?

What changed with Czernobog?  I realize he was thankful to Shadow, but he was also physically changed.

At the very end when shadow went to the brick building to see Czernobog, they kept on mentioning that spring was finally here.  I figure this was a metaphor for “the storm” finally ending which was all Loki’s work, but was there more to it?  Was there a change that people were going to start believing in the gods or did they just come to the realization that they didn’t need to actually fight with the new gods and could co-exist?

I need to watch the show now!

 

 

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