Laura Martinelli's Reviews > American Gods

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
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I’m sorry, I can’t give this book a fair review. Partially because I love it so freaking much, and partially because it’s hard for me to describe the book.

Sure, I could probably go on about the plot or the characters, but the thing about American Gods is that it’s a book that when I put it down, I can’t stop thinking about it. And that’s just the first thing I love about it; that there’s so many themes that Gaiman touches on but there’s no one specific “THIS IS IS WHAT THE BOOK’S ABOUT” moment.” Just the initial concept of how gods come into being may drive the story, but that’s not just what the book’s about. I’d give you a laundry list, but I can’t even delve into the themes and ideas that all get discussed.

The mythology is rich and varied. You don’t have to know every culture that Gaiman references throughout the book, he covers each deity and background skillfully without bogging the reader with explanatory details. And how he uses the gods and myths that do appear is so well-crafted, it feels like the events depicted could have happened in real life. Gaiman blurs the line between reality and fantasy so well that I can really see Odin working as a two-bit conman. This is also added with the side stories of the different gods and mortals who brought their beliefs to America. In other hands, I’m sure that the tracks into other plotlines would have been clumsy, but Gaiman uses them to add so much more depth to the world. And speaking of blurring the line between fantasy and reality, I get so lost in this book that even the real world locations that get mentioned in the book feel like they’re made up or couldn’t possibly be real.

I said in my review for The Graveyard Book that Gaiman rarely has defined heroes and villains (depending on the book), and American Gods is no exception. There are characters who do unspeakable things, yet, these characters are still pitiable and even likeable. (Doesn’t excuse what it is that they do, though.) Shadow’s a good guy who’s done bad things, but he never sugarcoats his actions or tries to justify them. Wednesday is…Wednesday. It’s hard to go into specifics because I know there’ll be spoilers involved. But even the new gods, who are supposed to seem like the ‘bad’ guys, have moments of humanity and compassion.

And the writing of this book and the plotting—just, no words that I can physically use. It’s a very slow build-up but once everything’s moved into place, the plot just takes off. I’ve read this book roughly about fifteen times since I first picked it up, I know the twists and I know the surprises. EVERY time I’ve read it, though, I’m still finding new clues, new bits that I missed, subtle hints to the reveals (and they are there).

This is just about the closest thing to a perfect book that I own. Like I said, I’ve read it so many times, and yet, I still love it. I’m never bored or tired of the plot, I want to know more about this world and just…yeah, again. No words.
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