I'm not sure if I under-appreciated this (popular) novel, but I'm relieved to be done. The vibe I got while reading was similar to watching a movie based on a comic-book, which is hardly surprising, really, considering Mr. Gaiman started out writing and illustrating graphic novels. The overall mood is dark, and if the characters were illustrated, I picture them all with sharply-contoured facial expressions and inhabiting a sharply shadowed, edgy world.
Shadow (the name fits the mood, doesn't it?) is released from prison and goes home to Indiana only to find that his wife has been killed in an accident. Unsure of what to do and with nothing to lose, he takes a job as an errand boy for a mysterious man named Wednesday. Shadow soon finds himself mixed up in a war between the dying "old gods" of traditional world cultures, and the "new gods" that are replacing them, represented by various anthropomorphic embodiments of the Media.
Overall, an interesting idea, but the greater pulpy feel rubbed me the wrong way, possibly due to mere personal tastes. I found the prose repetitive and tiresome: a character's every movement is described in great detail--to make up for the fact that this isn't a "graphic novel" with illustrations? A character takes a bite, chews, swallows, puts down the sandwich, wipes his mouth, picks it up again...really? What is the purpose of inflating a book in this manner, with all that meaningless detail? There are also some overly-gruesome scenes whose presence can only be explained by the physical shock value, as they fail to propel or be relevant to the story. These too I could have done without. Glad to be finished.
As usual the tale and the telling of the tale are both excellent. However I couldn't give this one four stars like his first two that I read (Neverwhere & Stardust). I found the ending to be very anticlimactic and unsatisfying.
This is one of Gaiman's masterpieces. He is at the top of his game here. A book I think everyone should read and anyone can get into! A cool concept. An entertaning and thougholy satisfing read. If you are a fan of Gaiman's you will love this book. If you are not a fan, you will be after reading this!