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American Gods
by Neil Gaiman

Overall: 9
Readability: 8
Intelligence: 9

After three years in prison, Shadow is looking forward to getting back to the loving arms of his wife and to staying out of trouble for the rest of his life. The day he gets out, he finds out that none of these things will happen - his wife and best friend have died in a car accident, and his job has fallen through as a result. Enter the grizzled grifter Wednesday, who offers Shadow a job. Still reeling from the death of his wife and figuring that he has nothing else to lose, Shadow accepts. But working for Wednesay proves to be a dagerous affair in itself, as Shadow is thrust into a world in which he understands little while everyone else seems to know Shadow better than he does himself. A storm is coming, and Shadow seems to be at the center of it all...

Gaiman skillfully draws on several mythological traditions in an almost playful manner. There are many who will enjoy picking out the in-jokes and subtleties of traditional mythology, but there is more to enjoy here than just that. American Gods, at first, gave me the impression of a sprawling, undisciplined series of unrelated encounters, with plenty of tangents and dead ends. But as I continued to read, I began to feel some threads being tightend. Tangents became curves; seemingly unrelated events were really interconnected and complex. Gaiman, like the scheming Wednesday, proves to be a master at misdirection. He resolves conflicts before you're actually aware that they exist (only in resolving them do you actually become aware of their importance). The pieces do end up slipping into place with ease, and Gaiman gets away with it, because it all rings true. There is, perhaps, a few strands that got away from him a bit, but nothing major. Well, there is one major event that is forshadowed for most of the novel, only to be glossed over in the end but I think that is just another example of Gaiman's inventive misdirection.

Once again, Gaiman has crafted an entertaining, dark yet easy-to-read novel, but this time, there is additional depth to the story, and it works well. The more I read Gaiman, the more he impresses me. I look forward to reading his earlier work, as well as any new stuff that comes along.

Neil Gaiman : Excellent official site. Be sure to check out his journal... Buy it here!

Further Discussion:
• Is Shadow a god? If so, was he always a god, or did he become a god during the course of the novel?
• Who was the god that Shadow kept forgetting?
• Was the climactic battle satisfying? Was it even the climactic battle?
• Why don't the gods just leave America?

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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

book cover

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