Guys, I’m distressed. Or maybe appalled is more accurate? It seems that an inappropriate number of people haven’t read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods yet and next summer will be the ten year anniversary. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!
After a lengthy Twitter discussion on the awesomeness that is American Gods and Neil Gaiman himself, I decided that his book needed its own review on the illustrious Nerdist blog. Everybody should read it! Not just because I said so, either. (But isn’t that enough?)
All right. Let’s start with what it’s about: a dude named Shadow gets paroled from prison, just after the death of his wife. It’s very depressing. Eventually, we delve into the strange journey he’s about to take with an insanely unique cast of characters. The whole premise is mythology; the old gods who are all but completely forgotten — although the Greeks don’t make an appearance, actually — waging a war on the new gods, those that speak of modern technology and the like. As Mr. Wednesday (he’s the Norse God Odin, by the way) puts it, “There are new gods growing in America, clinging to growing knots of belief: gods of credit card and freeway, of Internet and telephone, of radio and hospital and television, gods of plastic and of beeper and of neon.” And he doesn’t like it. Would you? Especially if you were brought over by the immigrants, who clung fastidiously to their beliefs, only to be abandoned for glitz and glam and flashy little jerks riding around in limos? I wouldn’t like it one bit.
This is the sort of book that I’ve read more than a couple times and each time I stumbled across some tidbit that I managed to miss before, something that hits me like a slap in the face (“Oh MAN! I never noticed THAT before.”) and I think that might be the best part of reading this book.
Very rarely do people completely understand their first read-through. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve recommended this book only to receive a mediocre response a week later, something along the lines of “Yeah, I guess it was good…. I didn’t really understand Mr. Wednesday, I guess.” Usually, I say: READ IT AGAIN and, if they do, they come back with an “OMFG I GET IT NOW!” and are recommending it to their friends. In fact, I was one of those people on my first pass, but luckily, I didn’t remain that way.
Although there’s a scene where a woman swallows a man whole into her vagina (it really bothers me, I don’t know why…), the book is an enjoyable read and definitely a fine piece of literature. It makes the reader take pause and examine what it is that we hold dear nowadays as opposed to what people held dear a century or four ago. It’s a much deeper read than you’d expect right off the bat, leading the reader to question theology and the course of the world, and I do see how it could throw people off their first time around.
So! Read it. That’s my point. Then read it again. I hope you’ll enjoy it and if not, I’m sorry. (But not really, it’s awesome.) Thanks for reading my post, book nerdlings, and feel free to leave your questions, comments and words of wisdom right here or on Twitter or drop me an email! Yaaaay literacy!