Wednesday, May 29, 2013

American Gods

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I purchased an ebook copy a couple of years ago when it was discounted at Barnes & Noble.

My review:

I like the haiku summary I found on LibraryThing:

New gods, and old ones
All across America
- A storm is coming

So I'll leave it at that.

They say that you either love or hate Neil Gaiman's books, but I can't quite agree. I liked it, but I just liked it. American Gods was fascinating and complex. It was like an extended brain teaser for people who like ancient mythologies and are comfortable with some ambiguity.

It is not a fast read, and I suggest reading it with or The Reader's Companion to World Literature nearby for quick reference. You will want to check your fuzzy memory unless you are a real mythology geek.

I appreciated Gaiman's cleverness; I loved how he incorporated and interpreted so many mythological characters; but I just couldn't get into the plot line. Shadow wanders sort of aimlessly and spends a lot of downtime practicing coin tricks here and there on the American map. That in and of itself was fine, but I just couldn't figure out what the point of any of it was for the majority of the book. It got good at the end.

Stars: 3

Objective rating: 4 stars

Gaiman is a great writer. But I can't quite bring myself to put him in the same category as fantasy writers like Tolkien or even Pratchett or Adams, who create complex worlds but also give the reader something to really care about. Gaiman is heavy on the complexity, light on the plotlines. I would rather have detail and a basic story than a compelling story that is only sketched in (personal preference), but I much prefer to have both unless I am already heavily invested in the characters (e.g., Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon).

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