Book Review of American Gods

American Gods
reviewed on + 108 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1

Wow, this will go down as one of my favorite novels. It needs to be a mini-series or multi part movie (a la Peter Jackson) yesterday. It was just so visual, intelligent, and intricate. I loved being fully immersed in the story and the scenery. This book is ultimately a love letter to America and its unique mixture of cultures, religions, belief in innovation, and constantly shifting attentions. For people well-versed in the geography of the Mid-West and Illinois in particular, there are plenty of references to locales that are like little nuggets of gold that just make the whole experience of reading this book seem more real. Gaiman obviously did his research and it amuses me to see mentions of small towns like Bloomington.

Yes, the plot rambles a bit and the focus can shift abruptly from the hero, Shadow, to another god or a quick history lesson. But I loved that. It gave me an all-encompassing view of the world of American Gods. It mimicked the very rambling and shifting nature of the American land and beliefs. I think there is a very good reason why Shadow is so often on a road trip for the majority of the novel. His shamanic journey, and the journey of all the gods to America, is like one long, never-ending road trip through a perilous and wondrous land.

I'm a mythology buff who is often disappointed by depictions of mythology in popular culture. It's not like Gaiman doesn't make decisions that don't gel with my personal view point on certain gods, but he does it in such an intelligent, darkly humorous, and beautiful way that is somehow still respectful without being reverential. I read this book for the depiction of the Norse gods, but the true stars of the book were, for me, the Egyptian gods. I dare anyone not to fall in love with Bast, Anubis, or Thoth. And crazy Horus was just too funny and endearing. Briefly mentioned hitchhiking Jesus gave me another chuckle.

I have flirted with reading this book since it first came out, always yearning to read it but so worried I'd be disappointed. Ultimately my high expectations were met and now I can't decide what book could possibly follow up this masterpiece that is part thriller, part fantasy, part horror, and part black comedy.