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American Gods (American Gods #1)

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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  328,021 ratings  ·  16,125 reviews
Days before his release from prison, Shadow's wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.

Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a s
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Paperback, the author's preferred text, 656 pages
Published March 4th 2005 by Headline Review (first published 2001)
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Vintage274 Sam says herself that she dreams she was a shaman with a shriveled arm in her past life. She is Atsula the holy woman of the matriarchal tribe that…moreSam says herself that she dreams she was a shaman with a shriveled arm in her past life. She is Atsula the holy woman of the matriarchal tribe that emigrates across the Bering Strait to America and is sacrificed at the foot of the mountain. Shadow cannot be seen when he gives her the flowers. He's a "shadowy" observer.(less)
Zee So far, Laura seems to me to be one of Shadow's personal goddesses. He deified her, and posthumously she failed him as a saviour. She comes back as a…moreSo far, Laura seems to me to be one of Shadow's personal goddesses. He deified her, and posthumously she failed him as a saviour. She comes back as a fallen god-like figure to aide him through his journey. It is known that ancient gods and goddesses were symbols of natural catastrophes and even human thoughts and emotions.

Laura was a type of demi-god in life, and was fully deified after her death through shadows reverence of her, but fell and became a shattered version of herself, just like all the other deities. A human being can be the inspiration for a god; the same way jesus christ is viewed as the mortal version of the almighty himself in christianity.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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David Monroe
Anybody who tells you that the book is about old and new gods, or about a man named Shadow, or about coin tricks, or about having one's head smashed in for losing a game of checkers, is selling you a line, because those are just details, not the story itself.

Much like any Neil Gaiman story, the devil is in the details, and you just have to resolve yourself to coming along for the ride or you'll miss it. It's not one story, or two, it's many, and it's all complete...and you have to just read it,
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N
First Neil Gaiman book I ever read, and it might be the last. The idea behind this book seemed so cool, but it didn't really play out in a way that engaged me.

In fact, I had three big problems with this book. (I'm vague at times to avoid spoilers.)

First, his characters are so emotionally detached that I can't care about them. I've read stories where emotional detachment is done well, in a way where you feel pain or pity or something for the character, but this was just... hollow. I felt nothing
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Stacey
In 2003, I walked away from my childhood religion – a high control (some would say abusive) group with a tiny little worldview and a severe superiority complex.

This was my reality:











I believed with all my being that the things depicted above were real, and were just over the event horizon.

Leaving meant losing almost every friend I had ever made since childhood, it created a rift with my still devout family, and quite possibly saved my life.

Is it any wonder that fiction – alternate realities, fa
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Nataliya
Neil Gaiman must have British gonads of titanium to write a huge sprawling epic story about the nature of American belief. It's a gamble that worked perfectly - since, as he said, "Nobody's American [...] Not originally. That's my point."


"It's a god-eat-god world." This quote by Sir Terry Pratchett, another amazing British writer, perfectly summarizes the surface plot of the intimidating bulk of American Gods.

"It's what people do. They believe, and then they do not take responsibility for their
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Meg ♥
This is a tough review for me to write. I'm not exactly sure what it is about this book that I don't like. I'm not sure there even IS something I don't like. Since I don't want to just leave you all with the ever popular "I'm just not that into it", I will try to explain.

This book has all the elements of a book I would enjoy. The creepiness factor is up there, the writing is brilliant, the main character is a big lug I couldn't help but love. Also, I have always been fascinated by mythology, so
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Patrick
Whenever we have a cold snap here in Wisconsin, I find myself thinking about one of my favorite pieces of American Gods.

I remember reading it back in 2002 or so. This was back in the day. Back when it was a bit of a secret that Gaiman lived in Wisconsin.

I read the following section of the book nodding to myself, thinking, "Yup, that's exactly what it's like."

Then I had another thought: "I bet this comes from that really bad cold snap we had here in Wisconsin about six years ago."

It was prett
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Oceana2602
"Read Gaiman!" they say. "I can't believe you've never read Gaiman! You have GOT TO read Gaiman!" "Gaiman is SUCH an important part of popular culture and one of the BEST contemporary writers! You HAVE TO READ GAIMAN!"

Well, I've read Gaiman now.

Hi Gaiman!
Bye Gaiman!


Let me quote:
"American Gods is Neil Gaiman's best and most ambitious novel yet, a scary, strange, and hallucinogenic road-trip story wrapped around a deep examination of the American spirit."

I agree with everything but the beginning a
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Stephen
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My literary promiscuity being what it is, I have read and loved a lot of novels in many different genres. However, among the beau coup books that I have loved long time there are a select few that hold a special, hallowed place in my pantheon of favorites…American Gods is one of these elite.

Gaiman’s writing is both subdued and poetic. It is deeply emotional, but without a hint of melodrama. His descriptions are elaborate yet not drawn out. He tells a huge, complex, eternal story, one small tal
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Steve Sckenda
Feb 15, 2015 Steve Sckenda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Fantasy
Recommended to Steve by: 30 Goodread Friends
What should I believe? Believe everything.

Belief without blood only takes us so far. The blood must flow.

This is no country for old gods. I drank the mead and surrendered to the power of dream logic of Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods,” which is a highly imaginative and well written novel that tells of how a diaspora of ancient gods organizes itself for battle against the new American gods of commerce and media. The paradigms are shifting, and gods have problems, too. Now I know.

The United States
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David Katzman
I find myself shocked at the awards this book has won and the praise heaped upon it. How on Gods’ Earth could a book about Gods walking on the Earth among mortals be so pedestrian? Somehow Gaiman managed to turn a potentially cool premise into something boring. For those who love this book—and I know it is many—please forgive the sarcasm to follow as I blaspheme against the beloved Gaiman. But Gods help me, the more I read, the more I hated American Gods.

First off, while the premise sounds inter
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Dan
Oct 23, 2007 Dan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: americans, gods, and everyone inbetween
This book (in a very round about way) taught me what good literature is. My mother was telling me about this book, and commented that it is good literature. Now, I was surprised to hear this because Neil Gaiman is usually a nonstop sex and violence party of disaffected goth teenager fantasy. Furthermore, I didn't really believe in good literature. I had had so much obvious bull-plop literary analysis crammed down my throat in high school (A high school teacher once said to our class "In the Grea ...more
mark monday
a protagonist, Shadow. calm, collected, quiet, passive, cagey, a tough guy and a sensitive guy. his life has been about reacting and not impacting. he moves through his story as if through a dream; tragedies and betrayals and mysteries and confidence games, the beginnings and endings of hope and love and life - all viewed as if through water, as if these terrible wonders were happening to someone else. he could be nothing more than a pawn in life - let alone a pawn of the gods - but yet his pass ...more
Kelly
Here's my new review of this, up on the B&N fantasy blog: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sc...

Yay!!
Trevor
I did like this, I liked this very much.

This was on my to read list and given I’ve never heard of the guy before it must have been recommended to me by someone. No idea who, though. It is a little surprising that when I looked no one I knew had reviewed this book. What had inspired me to read it is lost now.

A friend of mine wrote to me last week about her son’s interest in magic tricks – now, that must be the first time in years that I’ve thought about magic at all. So, when this one started and
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Kat Kennedy
A man was swallowed by a woman's vagina - so my mom wrote me a note and now I don't have to review this book anymore.
Wade
i'm a graduate student in theology, so how can i not love this book?
this book is one of the most creative descriptions of my own understanding of theology. gods do not exist on some eternal plane, but they rise and fall with the cultures and peoples who support and worship them. these gods have avatars in many different places--they are not a single entity but many that are called by the same name. mythologies can be more true than reality. and it's a good warning about how careful we should be
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Kay
This book turned me over completely to Neil Gaiman and made me drooly and ga-ga for his writing like a Twilight fangirl on too much fairy dust. I've read a few of Gaiman's works before (The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes, Neverwhere, Anansi Boys, and Stardust), but none have blown me so completely out of the boiling seas like American Gods.

American Gods is one of the quirkiest books on American culture and belief that I've read. Told from the perspective of a particularly insightful non
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Bill  Kerwin

In this unique love letter to the United States, Gaiman manages to celebrate its underground spiritual traditions, glory in the magnificence of its landmarks, landscapes, and bizarre tourist traps, and--most important--both mourn and venerate its pagan (often immigrant) gods in decline, battered and diminished though they may be by the shallowness and speed of a technological world. The gods are indeed the best part of this very good book: they are degenerate and threadbare, and yet still gods,
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Inge
DNF 26%

I tried, okay? I genuinely want to like Neil Gaiman. I want to fall in love with his stories, and be enchanted, and all things wonderful. But this book is not going to do that for me. It was weird - stories about eating tiger balls and man-eating vaginas, I cannot deal with.

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Anne
High 3.5 maybe 4 stars?
I can't say this is one I would recommend to everyone, and I certainly won't be shoving it down people's throats.
But I liked it.
Now, somehow I ended up with the extended 10 year anniversary edition. So, maybe that's why it took me forever to finish this. But I don't think that was entirely the issue. It's just a loooong fuckin' book. And not much happens in it action-wise, so you're not exactly flipping the pages with any intensity.
There's not even really (in my opinion)
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Sue
An incredible adventure!

The American Gods/gods, like the many peoples they accompanied, arrived on this continent over the past hundreds, thousands of years. And like average people, these gods assimilated in ways large and small into their environment, some losing parts of themselves, some holding on to traces of past glory in different ways and forms. As the people assimilated their beliefs often weakened too affecting their old gods.

But change has come. Major change in the form of new belief
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Gayla
This book is great. At times its a little confusing what is going on in this story, but that just adds to the quality of it because the moment you figure out what is going on is like a great slap-in-the-face moment of understanding, like OHHHHHHHHHH, I ... GET IT! This book has some funny parts and it has some interesting concepts that makes you want to take a moment to ponder them, and I just really liked it.

Here is my FAVORITE excerpt from the book, a little long, but SOOO worth reading. This
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Rabindranauth
“This isn’t about what is . . . it’s about what people think is. It’s all imaginary anyway. That’s why it’s important. People only fight over imaginary things.”

I’ve never read an urban fantasy novel that just so completely swept me away like Neil Gaiman’s American Gods has. Even months after, the sheer . . . . . . mind boggling nature of the tale he weaves in an addictively charming style remains one of the very best books I’ve ever read.

Shadow’s looking forward to finally getting out of jail wh
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Jessi
Ok so I have read a few reviews for this and a lot of people have mentioned the hype about this book, well I was unaware I think American Gods came out my last year of high school and I will be honest my darlings I was not up on hyped books at that point.

So with no great expectations I began the epic journey/road trip of American Gods
HolyFuckingShit
This book knocked me on my ass. I never knew where this story was taking me with a cast of fantastic characters led by a Mr. Wednesday. Mr. Wednesd
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Miss Kim
Oct 06, 2010 Miss Kim rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of fantasy, especially those that smoke weed
Shelves: 2010, fantasy, dnf
This one just was not for me. I think if I still got high that I would have enjoyed it more. I'm reminded of the time I watched Pink Floydd's 'The Wall' while stoned and thought it was awesome, and then saw it again sober, and I thought, 'WTF this makes no sense.'

This started out very good, and then stalled out. A man named Shadow is released from prison after 3 years, only to find his wife has been killed in a car accident while having sex with one of his friends. Ok, I can roll with that. What
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Franco  Santos
Un libro como sólo Neil Gaiman sabe escribir. Tiene esa fantasía tan peculiar del autor, en su expresión más fina. Una combinación de magia divina con la característica tétrica y umbría de este gran escritor.

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Es una de las novelas más extrañas y hasta bizarras que leí. Tiene partes que son, en mi opinión, graciosas de lo ridículo de su desarrollo. Otras me resultaron un poco pesadas, como los interludios. Éstos a muchos les encantó; a mí me aburrieron todos. Otro aspecto negativo que tengo que re
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Seth Hahne
After having come to appreciate Neil Gaiman's voice as expression in the delectable Anansi Boys and other treats (MirrorMask and select episodes from The Absolute Sandman), I thought I'd give American Gods another shot. Years ago, after it had first been released, I purchased it on the strength of rave reviews. I got about two-fifths through and just lost steam. The book is not exciting. Still, maybe it was worth it, so I began anew a couple months ago and read the thing through over the course ...more
Aubrey
I read this book in one day. Granted, I for a very long time was in a state where I didn't have much else to do besides read. But still. It's difficult to describe the deep sense of relief that I feel that I'm still capable of losing myself so fully in a work of literature. Also the awe at the work being capable of inspiring such a state.

Norse mythology. What a coincidence, that the recent slew of superhero movies chose to focus so heavily on the subject. Focused in a highly skewed, screwed up f
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Steph Sinclair
Oct 29, 2014 Steph Sinclair rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People looking for an amazing audiobook
Only Neil Gaiman could get a FULL NARRATION CAST. O.O Does that ever happen in life? I’ve never seen it done except in this case. But wow, this is one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever listened to. Each character has its own narrator and Gaiman himself narrators the Coming to American sections (which seemed completely random, but, whatever, Neil Gaiman’s voice tho).

I hadn’t read the book before listening so, I was a little taken back at how Shadow seemed to be a really apathetic protagonist. Oh,
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Lissa
Dec 03, 2013 Lissa added it
I can't bring myself to say that I liked this book.

I've decided to shelve it and maybe wait a few years to see if I actually do care enough to find out what happens next (like China Melveille's Perdido Street Station, which I shelved a mere 20 pages or so from the ending).

Gaiman surely is a talented writer. I'm not criticising him. I admire and respect his imagination and his brain, and his writing is easy to read.

What I don't like about American Gods is the emotional detachment of the main cha
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Share This Book

“I can believe things that are true and things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not.

I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Beatles and Marilyn Monroe and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen - I believe that people are perfectable, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkled lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women.

I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone's ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state.

I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste.

I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we'll all be wiped out by the common cold like martians in War of the Worlds.

I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman.

I believe that mankind's destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it's aerodynamically impossible for a bumble bee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there's a cat in a box somewhere who's alive and dead at the same time (although if they don't ever open the box to feed it it'll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself.

I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn't even know that I'm alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck.

I believe that anyone who says sex is overrated just hasn't done it properly. I believe that anyone who claims to know what's going on will lie about the little things too.

I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman's right to choose, a baby's right to live, that while all human life is sacred there's nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system.

I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you're alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
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“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 fooling a soul.” 3731 likes
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