Where did I get the book? Having read Neverwhere (review forthcoming) and seen it’s production as a BBC short series, I picked up American Gods and a few other Gaiman stories.
Why Did I Choose This Book? The struggle Gaiman depicts in American Gods, between the Gods of the old world (Europe), and the new things we worship here in the west, is very real to me as a person of belief. Television, Celebrity, and other modern concerns are edging out the power of the old divinities – and, in this tale, they’re having none of it.
The Story’s Strengths: The world Neil Gaiman portrays in American Gods is dark, as is much of his work, with layers of intrigue hiding behind every surface. The main character, Shadow, is a compelling everyman ex-convict deserving of a second chance. All in all, American Gods plays up the massive cultural subtext of attention becoming worship in a way that’s both insidious and thought-provoking in all the best ways.
The Story’s Weaknesses: At times in the book’s beginning, Shadow’s reactions to the strangeness around him feels a bit contrived. It’s hard to tell, from Gaiman’s writing, just how it’s affecting his characters. This is more a weakness in Gaiman’s style than anything else; he writes very much from outside his characters’ heads, as if he were directing a screenplay rather than writing a novel.
Why I’m Recommending It: American Gods is fantasy fiction blended with real world noir mystery at its finest. Neil Gaiman is fantastic in his portrayal of the war for faith. American Gods is worth reading as a study both in deep fiction, and for those of us concerned about just how our rabid attention to “The New” is affecting our perception of “The Old”.