I hit a bit of a lull after finishing the last two books i was reading. I was at a loss when it came to picking a new book. Red Country was recommended again but I wanted to take a break from 'dark and gritty', because if you read too much at once, I find it is no longer 'dark and gritty'. So I headed on over to stand alone list on the Best Fantasy Book's site. American Gods took my fancy, I'd heard good things from a few trusted forum members and I have been meaning to give it a go.
I have never read anything by Neil Gaiman before. I didn't even know what kind of books he wrote. I'd seen Stardust and didn't like it but that doesn't mean anything really. So with no reservations, just curiosity I started American Gods. And once I had started. I couldn't put it down.
The basic premise is that Shadow, a normal guy is thrust into this world of Gods. The Gods exist as you and I do in the real world, some of them have jobs and some are not happy. They are not happy because the came into existence when people believed in them. When people no longer believed in them they no longer held any kind of power, they were stuck. There are new Gods now too, Gods of the internet, and television and all of the things we humans devote our time and attentions to. Shadow is hired as a body guard, of sorts, by one of the Gods and then we tumble along with him into this world and the craziness of it.
Shadow's story is sharp and quick. In a very few chapters Gaiman sets up his character and we get the gist of this main that is our main character. After that we learn more about Shadow from what happens TO him rather then what has happened before him (there is a difference I swear it). I really liked this story line and I loved Shadow as a character. He is the kind of guy I would like to have my back. The stability of this character hold the story together I feel. I think, and this is going to sound a little crazy, that by creating a main character who was able to be so calm in his dealings with the Gods, I too just accepted what was going on around me.
The Gods themselves were really interestingly done. It was really fascinating to see all different manner of Gods mixed together, talking to one another. I also found out some pretty cool stuff about the origins of some of the things people believe in. I am not well educated in the Gods of religions outside my basic understanding of Native American, Norse, Greek and Roman so I didn't do well in my guesses of who each God was. Maybe you will do better.
There was not a part of this book I didn't like. It was so different to the fantasy I had been reading and it was nice to encounter something set in the modern day. The stand alone list is a great way to broaden your reading bookshelf and I will definitely be back there later on. I want to read Neverwhere next!
American Gods gets 4.5 out of 5 Gods wasting into obscurity.
Oh and btw - It is being made into a TV series! HBO is going all out on the fantasy books ey?