Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Epically Epic American Gods

Someone once said "American Gods is a great book. But I have absolutely no desire to read it again."

Having now read it, I can see why they thought that. I don't feel any strong desire to reread even parts of it at this immediate moment but I do think that I might want to one day. It's a wonderful book and is so well plotted and well done.
I think the biggest struggle I had with this was its slow build. This is likely not a fault of the book and more that I have grown so used to reading YA and those have to grab attention quicker. The slow burners always take me a little while to get into and sometimes, no matter what the book is, I drag my feet.

I, like a lot of the world, love mythology and I think Neil Gaiman did something really cool with it here. Not only did we get examples of different gods from around the world but we also got to see how they were worshiped and, in same cases, how they came to be. It was a really interesting look at how different cultures worship and what sorts of things drive them to do so. The amount of research that went into this book must have been astounding. Research has never been my forte so I'm immediately impressed.

The characterization of the gods and the way that each of them was adapted and modernized was so well chosen and so interestingly done. I think one of the most intriguing was the inclusion of creatures like brownies and dwarves. They are pieces of a different sort of mythology in some ways but are things that were brought over when people believed in them.

As much as I loved the added cut-scenes of the additional gods and their birth in the new world, I also found some of them to be a bit long. As self contained as they were, some of them I loved as their own stories. Others I groaned and gritted my teeth waiting for them to end. There was an occasion or two where they stopped the flow of the main story. Though, once again, I did see their use and often enjoyed them in their own right.

I have mixed feelings about Shadow. I think he is supposed to come off as sort of bland and malleable next to all of these giant characters and he does. I think that helps make Laura's comment about him not really being alive make more sense. Because he never strikes me as particularly lively. This might not matter much because in terms of the story it worked but there is something about him that makes me feel removed from what's happening. His personality didn't shine bright enough when I thought that it should.

I loved all of the gods. At least how they're all depicted. I wasn't really fond of all of them but I was awed by the job that Gaiman did on creating. They have such distinct personalities and these awesome habits and just come together so awesomely.

Even the newer gods were awesomely chosen. Media and the one that we only saw one scene of but was supposed to be a therapist. They were all just awesome. There was something so unsettling and disconcerting about them that played really well.

There was a time or two that I felt like I would have understood, or gotten more from the story if I knew more about certain myths. Something would happen and I wouldn't be sure if it was a Gaiman thing or a mythology thing. Since it sometimes took me a few pages to get my reading flow started I didn't want to stop to look things up.

Overall, I'm incredibly impressed with American Gods (and totally late on the bandwagon here) but I wasn't fawning over it.

I give American Gods a rating of: Massively Epic.

I know that's like sacrilege to some people. Perhaps when I eventually reread it I will boost it's rating? What do you ducks think?

So, I didn't manage to win the Dream Thieves contest but that's okay because my work ended up getting a copy. I decided it's my reward for finishing American Gods so that is definitely next.

Until then,


1 comment:

  1. Excellent review! I've been wanting to read this for awhile now (because I've actually only read one Neil Gaiman book and apparently that's a crime or something :P) but wasn't too sure what to expect. You review has certainly made me interested in checking it out for myself. I'm especially intrigued by the quote you started with. This book seems like nothing I've read before, so I'll definitely have to get my hands on a copy and see what it's all about.