I wish I could say that I liked this book more than I actually did. I really do. I even picked up the audiobook to see if that could keep my attentionI wish I could say that I liked this book more than I actually did. I really do. I even picked up the audiobook to see if that could keep my attention past the first 60 or so pages, and it didn't quite do so. But more on the audiobook later.
American Gods has a fantastic premise, but overall, the plot didn't appeal to me. Without giving too much away, the setup is that when immigrants are brought to America, they bring their beliefs in their gods with them, and as it would turn out, gods are real, so the gods come to America. However, America is a bad land for gods and the new gods of technology (think TV, the Internet, etc) are about to destroy the old gods (Norse, Egyptian, and Native American among them). A man named Shadow gets caught in the middle of it all.
Catches your attention, doesn't it?
Unfortunately, it doesn't quite live up to the hype. At least for me it didn't. The plot is kind of all over the place in terms of what Shadow's end goal actually is; his motivation is unclear. All he wants to do is live a quiet life, yet the old gods and the new gods are both fighting for his allegiance. Yet later on, he wants to live. Then he wants to die.
The book takes a major slowdown when Shadow has to live under an alias in small town Wisconsin for a few months, and nothing quite exciting happens save for a few pages here or there. I found myself multiple times wanting to get to the next chapter not because I wanted to find out what happened next, but because I wanted the story to be over.
However, there is one portion of the book that was exquisitely written: the coming to America chapters, in which Gaiman departs from the main plot to tell side stories of how different gods were brought to America. Incredibly well-written, and, if you decide to get the 10th Anniversary Audiobook like I did, expertly narrated by Gaiman himself. They're the reason the book gets two stars instead of one.
One thing I dislike about books in general is a sense of moral grayness. And American Gods is filled with it. There is no black and white right or wrong side; while I want to root for the old gods, they're pretty much jerks (I will say that Mr. Ibis and Mr. Jaquel do add a fun, albeit brief dynamic to the story however) with their own self-motivation. The new gods are even worse, and are meant to be portrayed as the "bad guys" but the old gods aren't much better. Shadow is just apathetic enough at times for a majority of the book to make me not care what happens to him, despite his character's transformation after a somewhat harrowing ordeal involving a tree.
For some, you may like this book, but I didn't. The end "battle" wasn't really a battle at all, and I felt only a few of the loose ends were tied up. There was one twist I didn't see coming until about 2/3 into the book (and even then I had my doubts), and it's then revealed close to the end (I was right), which is a little interesting, but overall, nothing too special.
Give it a read if you'd like, but I wasn't thrilled. I'd rather have a book full of the coming to America chapters. ...more