Meghan's Reviews > American Gods

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
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Sep 26, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: brit-lit, fantasy, kindle, sfbc, own, bookish, american, challenge, mythology
Recommended to Meghan by: sfbc
Recommended for: Mythology buffs
Read from January 21 to 26, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 1

Okay, so I was completely 100% ready to hate this book. I went into it with some trepidation. People I know and respect did not enjoy this book. Yet so many people (whom I do not know) loved it. And then I started. And chapter 1 was so "meh" that I almost decided it wasn't worth pursuing. But my need to finish books overwhelmed me and I soldiered on. And on. And on. And the around page 468 the story suddenly happened. And all my hard work and effort to push through this story came crashing to a resolution. FINALLY! Something was happening. And Gaiman hits you with an ending that, I thought, was worth the trouble.

Mostly, I felt that the sentences Gaiman wrote reflected his skill as a writer. This man knows how to craft words together. And the ancient mythology he scattered throughout the story was really fascinating. Folklore, myths, and stories long lost were dredged up and placed in modern context. But the whole time my brain kept saying "this should be so interesting..." And I'm not sure why this story just didn't work for me, but it felt like I was reading it through a glass of muddy water. It just didn't gel into anything that grabbed me and wouldn't let me go.

The only point that I really felt resonated with me is Gaiman's philosophy that America (the US) is not a land for gods. And it made me think of how the world (and some Americans) claim the US has no culture. And Americans tend to clamor about, arguing that our culture is one of a melting pot, taking a bit from the old world and adding some new. And yes, America does have its own brand of culture. But this is also a land where one sheds its old world beliefs and customs and traditions. This is a place where people look to the future and rarely the past. This is a place where gods die and the new ones become obsolete faster than your iPhone. And I felt that with all the politic debates going on, this was really relevant and timely. But like the book there is no finality to that. No one is going to go about changing it so that the gods suddenly become important here. It's more like an abstract musing on a cloudy day. And like a puff of smoke, it fades away in your mind.

But I gave this 4 stars because the man can write. And even if you hate the story, you have to appreciate the talent he brings to the world of books.
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Reading Progress

01/21/2012 "Started first chapter. Didn't grip me right away, not sure how that bodes. Do I believe my GR friends or the mass of GR fans? hmmmm" 2 comments
01/21/2012 "Started first chapter. Didn't grip me right away, not sure how that bodes. Do I believe my GR friends or the mass of GR fans? hmmmm" 2 comments
01/22/2012 page 127
19.0% "Okay, so getting past the first chapter is the major hurdle. The next few really move. The story still hasn't unfolded very much, but knowing that this book was the inspiration for the tv series "Supernaturals" really helped me put it in (I think) the right perspective. [Basically it's Jack Kerouac for the Twilight generation? heh]"
01/23/2012 page 261
40.0% "Have you ever read a story where the intellectually you know the writing is very good and the words are easy to read but the story itself makes you feel like you're just going around in circles? The jury is still out on whether or not I'm enjoying myself."
01/25/2012 page 462
70.0% "Stupid fb and WWF distracting me. Almost done." 6 comments
04/29/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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message 1: by Jayme (new) - added it

Jayme I'm goingto read this soon. I'm glad to hear that someone din't hate it.

Meghan Just push through the beginning. And kind of have the expectation that there really isn't much of a story. It's rather like a car ride with your parents, just sit back and somewhat enjoy the scenery.

message 3: by Jayme (new) - added it

Jayme Will do!

Alex Terrific review!

Meghan Thanks. Did you read this?

Alex Just finished it last week. I more or less agreed with you. Liked the plot a little better than you did and the writing a little less. It came in seventh in Bookish's Best of the 21st Century, so I was reading it from the perspective of "Is this one of the ten best books of the last 13 years?" and no, I would say not, but I was pretty entertained.

Meghan Cool. I thought it had some interesting concepts but i didn't really understand how it could be on a top 10 list.

Meghan Have you read one that would make your list yet?

Alex Well, the winner, 2666, was a staggering masterpiece; I can't imagine how any other book is going to come close to it. Bookish has good taste.

Aside from that I've only read one more, and it was Freedom; I was prepared to dislike it, because Franzen just always seems to have his mouth open and I don't think I like him, but I thought it was terrific. Yeah, possibly a top ten book. Really impressive character work.

Meghan I enjoyed Freedom too. Franzen is an ass, but he does write well. And yeah, 2666 was mindblowing. I'm still mad Bolaño is dead so he can't answer for it. Or write another. I think there was one more on your list that I thought might be a good one but I don't remember which one.

message 11: by Alex (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alex Let's see, here's the list:

- 2666
- The Road (fine but not McCarthy's best for me; I was surprised at how much love this one got)
- White Teeth (I voted for this one - I want to read it)
- Wolf Hall (excellent, but I wouldn't have thought to put it on this list, maybe because historical fiction doesn't seem "21st century" enough?)
- Emperor of All Maladies (excited to check this one out)
- Cloud Atlas (gah, I don't really get along with Mitchell but I'll try it)
- American Gods
- Billy Lynn's Halftime Walk (for some reason quite suspicious of this one)
- Skippy Dies (psyched for it)
- Freedom
- To the End of the Land (suspicious of this too)

One thing I noticed about this list is that it's full of quite long books; most are well over 500 pages. I think people had "important" in mind and went for epics. Understandable; I would do the same.

Meghan I think it was Emperor of All Maladies that I was thinking. I want to read that one. And Skippy Dies. Cloud Atlas is on my 2014 list because 2014 is going to be the year of sci fi for me. I'm woefully lacking in this genre. I was a little surprised though to see it make a top 10 list. I would think there would be a lot more "important" 21st sci fi than that one. Maybe it's just on everyone's radar because of the movie.

message 13: by Alex (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alex Maybe? But I do remember it getting an awful lot of buzz when it came out. David Mitchell was like this big deal. And then I read Ghostwritten and I was like boooooo, this is lame.

Maybe we can read some of these at around the same time!

Meghan Oh that would be cool. I have nothing lined up for this year except the intention to read more science fiction.

message 15: by Alex (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alex So what's on your scifi list? Is it just 21st century? Here's what springs to mind for me:

Late 20th
- Neuromancer, which you've already read
- The Sparrow, which I keep meaning to read

- More Mieville, which it looks like is already part of your plan
- MaddAddam because you've read the other two

Man, I can't even think of anything else. I'm as bad at scifi as you are. You've already tackled The Road and IQ84.

Meghan MaddAdam definitely and more Meiville. I'm finishing up the Iain M. Banks book which I'm really enjoying so I may read another. I need to read more Philip K. Dick. Asimov. Jules Verne. There are a couple Ender books I haven't read.

I belong to the SciFi and Fantasy Book club here and I was going to go through their bookshelves. They usually pick the top SF books. I haven't read one that I haven't enjoyed. oh wait. I didn't like Snow Crash, but I think I'm the only human who hasn't. Which reminds me I have Reamde to read this year too.

message 17: by Alex (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alex Oh yeah, I hear good stuff about Reamde. I liked Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, though that wasn't scifi.

Aren't the other Ender books supposed to be pretty lame?

Meghan Crytonomicon! I was trying to think of that name. I want to read that one too. I read the first one of his trilogy but it's historical fiction and science rather than science fiction.

I am a huge Speaker of the Dead fan. it was written first and for adults but he felt it needed a back story so he wrote EG. I think the series are fun but other than SotD they tend to be popcorn fare.

message 19: by Alex (last edited Jan 02, 2014 06:45AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alex I don't remember ever hearing anyone else call themselves a Speaker of the Dead fan.

You have War of the Worlds on your to-read list too, huh? I think The Island of Dr. Moreau is my favorite of Wells. And I decided on 20,000 Leagues for my favorite Verne, although it's long and has some slow parts. I'd like to read his From the Earth to the Moon.

Ooh, and I see We on your list. Don't sleep on that! I love it.

Meghan Yeah. There are a bunch of titles that Bookish recommended that I want to get to.

I think you're the first person I know who hasn't heard someone gush about SotD.

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