American Gods

American Gods falls on the unfortunately long list of books that I wish were better. It won (or was at least nominated) for a whole pile of awards[1]. It’s by an author who’s works in other genres I’ve enjoyed (e.g. the movie Corline or his episodes on Doctor Who) and who seems like a solid person in real life.

I just couldn’t get into it.

It’s a bummer, because it’s such a fascinating world. I like the idea (shared by The Iron Druid Chronicles) that not only are the gods still walking among us, but also that a god can have more than one form, depending on how and when it was worshipped. I like the idea that the old gods are pissed at the new gods (Media / The Internet) for encroaching on their territory. I like how the old gods feel more ‘human’, only somehow more yet also somehow less.

But the story itself drags at points, with several sections (the dreams in particular) which I thought were interesting, but I wasn’t entirely sure why they were there. I’ve heard it said that Gaiman cut half of American Gods even before it was released, but at ~650 pages, it’s still a hefty tome. I think it could have lost a little more.

Conversely, I did think that most of the characters were pretty solid. I thought Shadow was a solid enough protagonist, going along with a world gone mad until he’d had enough… and then a step or two more. I felt for Mr. Wednesday, trying to take back pieces of a world gone wrong. I liked the little hints and pieces of how the gods’ lives had changed on coming to the new world.

All in all, it’s the sort of book that I’m glad that I’ve read… but I doubt I will ever reread. There are a few interesting ideas buried in there that I’m sure will surface years from now, long after I’ve forgotten where they came from.

[1] Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel (2001), Hugo Award for Best Novel (2002), Nebula Award for Best Novel (2002), Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (2002), International Horror Guild Award Nominee for Best Novel (2001), etc, see Goodreads

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