American Gods

American Gods

by Neil Gaiman

  • First published:  2001
  • Pages: hardcover, 682 pages
  • Rating: 2/5

“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.”

In short:

A bumpy and far-too-long road-trip with one-dimensional human pawns and–oh yeah, don’t forget–gods.

In long:

There are books that are plot-driven and then there are books that are character-driven. With American Gods, Gaiman created a book that is solely idea-driven, but a good idea is not enough to write a compelling read. And American Gods could have been compelling. But it isn’t.

Let’s have a short look at the premise. Gaiman promises us an adventurous story about gods who live among men in modern day America and who are desperate to regain the faith they once commanded. That sounds nice, doesn’t it?

“All your questions can be answered, if that is what you want. But once you learn your answers, you can never unlearn them.”

But what we get is a slow-paced road trip, told in the third person by Shadow, who is a really big man. Why do I mention this? Because it’s mentioned in the book  1000 times, so I guess it’s important. Shadow is big.

Great, now that’s settled, let’s continue…

“Every hour wounds. The last one kills.”

Besides big, Shadow is also really boring. He’s a pawn of the gods, moving from X to Y without knowing why. He talks a bit with Mrs Z and a bit with Mr O and awaits further instructions from Wednesday–and then everything starts afresh. Every now and then he meets a god or two, but nothing really happens. The reads are promised a war, but they only get bumpy dialogues and coin tricks…

Maybe I just didn’t get it.

Maybe American Gods is too far away from my usual reading.

Maybe I need to be a god, or, at least, American to understand this.

Maybe then I’d care about the characters and their little road trip.

“Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end.” 

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