17 February 2013 3 Comments
Author: Neil Gaiman.
Summary: Days before his release from prison, Shadows wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm or preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.
Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5
Review: Gaiman himself sums up this book adequately in one word in the introduction: meandering. The actual plot can be described quickly and simply: Man gets caught up in Gods going to war. But it’s the details and intricacies, the dozens of characters and Gaiman’s meandering that give the book its length, and its life.
I liked this book the same way i liked The Night Circus; because of the details. The kind of details each book used are different, though. While The Night Circus detailed the physical and atmospheric world of the circus, American Gods details the characters, their emotions and their motivations.
For the most part of the book we follow Shadow as he follows Wednesday, road tripping across the United States, attempting to recruit ‘old’ Gods to fight in a war. That’s it. That sums up at least the first half, if not the first three quarters of the book. It sounds simple and seems unlikely to last 443 pages, but it’s not that simple and does indeed last 443 pages. The entire book is scattered with and entirely made up of small stories, shorter happenings that thread together to create a network of narratives and characters that culminate in the last hundred-odd pages.
To be honest, i found the climax(es) unsatisfying, or at least, not as satisfying as they should have been, considering the lengthy build-up. When the truth about what had been happening was finally revealed, when the network of narratives each got completed, i found i had enjoyed the story more than conclusions; i found the journey more exciting than the arrival.
There were numerous large concepts being dealt with throughout the book, but i chose not to read into them too deeply. Maybe i would have enjoyed the book and the conclusion more if i had, but i preferred to let myself enjoy the characters and their journeys without over analysing the metaphors. I’m sure this book would benefit from a re-read or two, but i doubt it will get it from me. I enjoyed the book, and that’s enough.