Mark Vandervinne's Reviews > American Gods

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
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Mar 17, 2010

really liked it

10-2-2016 review update
I have been studying story sturcture now for a few years, and am understanding stories so much better than before. In hindsight, I wonder if my problems with the book aren't problems with the book, but are problems of what I prefer to like in a story. I now wonder if Shadow is a non-linear thinker, having a holistic approach to solving his problems. Solving his problems not through action but through emotions. I also wonder if I was expecting a Do-er character when instead Shadow is a Be-er character, happy to sit and watch and analyze things from the outside, instead of jumping right into the mix. (Deckard from Blade Runner is a Be-er/Holistic character, and so is Father Damien Karras from the Exorcist.)

The other thing I began to wonder is if Shadow is not the protagonist in the story. The one who drives the story. He is clearly the main character. Usually the main character and protagonist are the same person, but they don't have to be. The protagonist, or person who drives the story along, can be another person. Scout is the main character in "To Kill A Mockingbird" while Atticus Finch drives the story, Mad Max in "Mad Max: Fury Road" – Furiosa drives the story, and Red (Morgan Freeman) in the Shawshank Redemption" – Andy (Tim Robbins) is the protagonist. It seems more likely now that Wednesday/Odin is the protagonist and Shadow is the main character.

I would like to go back and re-read this book now. I've read more Neil Gaiman since then. This was the second book I had read by him, "Neverwhere" being the first. So with a better understanding of how he writes I'm curious to see if my opinion of the book would change.

Original review:
Not sure it's worth even the three stars, more like 2 1/2. The real problem with the book is not the story, it's the main character. He's a tough guy who's passive. He's very nonchalant and sits and watches things happen around him without taking a side, opinion or action. Many people are like this in real life (probably including myself), but it makes for a horrible lead character. Even anti-heroes like Thomas Covenant do something. If the character was more active I wonder how that may have changed the story and made it less lilting and dull. Good idea, bad execution. Side note: As always, Neil's prose is wonderful and possibly the best in the genre. But the ability to use nice phrases and and choice words isn't enough to save the problems in this book.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
March 17, 2010 – Shelved

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