American Gods is Neil Gaiman's best and most ambitious novel yet, a scary, strange, and hallucinogenic road-trip story wrapped around a deep examination of the American spirit. Gaiman tackles everything from the onslaught of the information age to the meaning of death, but he doesn't sacrifice the razor-sharp plotting and narrative style he's been delivering since his Sandman days.
Shadow gets out of prison early when his wife is killed in a car crash. At a loss, he takes up with a mysterious character called Wednesday, who is much more than he appears. In fact, Wednesday is an old god, once known as Odin the All-father, who is roaming America rounding up his forgotten fellows in preparation for an epic battle against the upstart deities of the Internet, credit cards, television, and all that is wired. Shadow agrees to help Wednesday, and they whirl through a psycho-spiritual storm that becomes all too real in its manifestations. For instance, Shadow's dead wife Laura keeps showing up, and not just as a ghost–the difficulty of their continuing relationship is by turns grim and darkly funny, just like the rest of the book.
Armed only with some coin tricks and a sense of purpose, Shadow travels through, around, and underneath the visible surface of things, digging up all the powerful myths Americans brought with them in their journeys to this land as well as the ones that were already here. Shadow's road story is the heart of the novel, and it's here that Gaiman offers up the details that make this such a cinematic book–the distinctly American foods and diversions, the bizarre roadside attractions, the decrepit gods reduced to shell games and prostitution. "This is a bad land for Gods," says Shadow.
More than a tourist in America, but not a native, Neil Gaiman offers an outside-in and inside-out perspective on the soul and spirituality of the country–our obsessions with money and power, our jumbled religious heritage and its societal outcomes, and the millennial decisions we face about what's real and what's not. –Therese Littleton
User Ratings and Reviews
1 Star Clever ruse designed to lead people to atheism
I'm going to queue up with the other one star reviewers. The book is basically about people with little class who seem to have incredibly small bladders as they are always having to take a "piss". One could make a drinking game with the number of times "piss" is used in the book. Gaiman also lets no meal, no matter how trivial or unrelated to the plot, pass unmentioned. Why is so much space taken up with the characters eating meal after meal while going from place to place? Surely we can be allowed to assume the characters eat enough to stay alive and don't need to be reminded of it every few paragraphs. Nope. I kept waiting for the gods to become more awe inspiring or evil or wise or something. Is it Gaiman's point that our gods can only be low class, shallow, foul-mouthed womanizers and whores since that reflects humanity as he sees it? There was little to nothing clever about the book outside the premise. American Gods still waits to be written.
4 Stars American Gods
The book seems alright, and it came within decent shape. The shipping speed was exceptional. I can always expect great service from Amazon.com and the sellers who participate.American Gods: A Novel
5 Stars American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
This is a good book for mythology lovers. It's a hero story with none of the contemporary cliches (no magic sword, no talking horse) but many cultural references. Although I was not familiar with the prototypes of the characters, I enjoyed the adventure – sometimes grim but ultimately hopeful. When I looked up the origins of the "gods" it became even more interesting. And Neil Gaiman writes very well of course.
3 Stars A Great Concept That Died In Mediocrity
Protagonist Shadow finds himself in the employ of Mr. Wednesday, a mysterious man traveling the country to recruit gods of ancient mythology for an epic showdown with today's gods of modern life and technology, shortly after the death of his wife and being released from prison. The duo are engaged in an effort to galvanize support from recently forgotten gods whose power and influence has waned as they crossed the oceans into the New World and found a land inhospitable to them. The murder of Mr. Wednesday at the hands of the new gods, led by Mr. World, motivates the ancient gods toward war and self preservation, calls Shadow's loyalties and humanity into question, and sets in motion a two man con for the biggest stakes of all.
Shadow is also involved in an extensive subplot where the children of Lakeside are going missing.
Gaiman set up a very promising story but it quickly fell to mediocrity as the pages dragged on and the would-be climax never came to fruition as it should have.
2 Stars Big pile of "meh"
I just finished American Gods. I've read that along with his novel Neverwhere and some of his graphic novel series, Sandman. I am prepared to say I don't see why he's such a big deal. I found American Gods to be self-indulgent and mostly just plain boring.