American Gods (Book)

What is it?

The 2001 book American Gods by the author Neil Gaiman.

What is it about?

The book is about a man named Shadow Moon who is released early from prison after the death of his wife Laura Moon, and on an airplane ride home to attend his wife’s funeral he meets a mysterious man named Wednesday who offers Shadow a job.

After this Shadow ends up getting caught up in something more mysterious, strange, and serious than he expected as he travels around with Wednesday on a journey that combines bits of ancient mythology (the Old Gods (Deities)) and fictionalized mythology (the New Gods (Deities)) from a more American and modern perspective.

This is how Goodreads describe this book:

[Now a TV Series produced by FremantleMedia North America available internationally on Amazon, exclusively through Prime Video and starring Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning, and Pablo Schreiber.]

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana.

A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident.

With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday.

A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined.

Soon Shadow learns that the past never dies…and that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing – an epic war for the very soul of America – and that he is standing squarely in its path.

American Gods ©2015 FremantleMedia North America.

All rights reserved.

Artwork under license to FremantleMedia.

©2001 Neil Gaiman (P)2001 Recorded Books

What do you like about it?

I like the idea of combining elements of ancient mythology and fictionalized mythology from a modern and American perspective where you get to see different deities and other types of entities from ancient times and modern times interact with each other and with humans.

What would someone else like about it?

I think that other people will also like the unique combination of ancient mythology and fictionalized mythology from an American and modern perspective, but I would like to warn readers that this book can be vulgar at times.

My Thoughts

At times American Gods is the most vulgar book that I have read (I have not read many books though 😀 ), and my feelings about the book are the most conflicted and mixed of any book that I have read because the book jumps back and forth between being good and bad and neutral at times.

I feel that this book would be better if someone were to edit it to remove the unnecessary vulgar parts, to reduce the unnecessary obsession with what people are eating (especially the unhealthy stuff that they often ate in the book), to shorten the overall length of the book which was longer than it should have been, to add more details about the deities and their lore (especially the New Gods (Deities)), to make Shadow Moon a more interesting character, there should have been some more female characters who had more depth and importance (especially Goddesses), to remove some of the parts where I felt that the author was maybe projecting too much of himself onto some of the characters (especially some of the Gods) which caused them to sometimes do and say things that seemed very out of character, and more.

I find it strange and somewhat contradictory that major deities got left out of the book, but maybe Mr. Gaiman did not want to offend followers of those religions and / or he wanted to focus on lesser known deities.

Some of the concepts in the book are interesting, but some of those concepts also seem contradictory when you stop and think about them.

Basically I feel that this book should be rewritten by a better author, maybe that is too harsh because there are some parts of Mr. Gaiman’s writing style that I liked, but I think that this book could be done better by another author.

I hope that the American Gods television series will be better than the book, and I think that this might be one of the few times where I feel that a film or television show might end up being better than the book but who knows. (So far the book is better overall than the TV show, but the TV show is better in a few ways; but the book is still better unfortunately)

I am being pretty critical of this book but I do not hate it and I actually liked it at times (I could say some more positive things about this book, but then I would probably end up sharing too many spoilers), the beginning of the book got me into the story and there was enough to keep me reading and interested even as I struggled with the issues that bothered me, and things started to get better at the end until a certain point.

I like the idea of this book and how it got me to think about some new possibilities more than the book itself, this book had much more potential, and I think that this book could be improved by a good editor to make it a great book that I could feel comfortable recommending to others.

Even with the bad parts popping up here and there, I continued wanting to read the book to see where things were going as the story built up toward what I assumed would be something epic, and what happened surprised me in a good way but then it also disappointed me in some ways.

This book got me thinking about some new possibilities when it comes to things like religion, deities, the supernatural, the paranormal, culture, ancestors, life, death, the past, the present, the future, and more.

This book left me not sure how I felt about it exactly or how I should rate it,  and the vulgarity and other problems that I had with the book left me feeling uncomfortable with recommending it to others and with sharing it as a staff pick at the library where I work.

After I read the book I literally stopped for a moment not sure of how I felt or how I would rate it, and I still feel the same way.

I could say more about the book American Gods but this post would drag on even more than it already has, and I want to keep this mostly spoiler free so I will stop there.

This was my first time reading a book in years, the experience was better than I had expected, and at times it felt good to read a book again.

Reading this book at times was almost like how I imagine meditation might be somewhat like, and I think that maybe most people could probably benefit from reading books sometimes.

This experience and the fact that I now work at a library, may lead to me trying to read and / or listen to at least one or more books a year, and maybe I will start with something from the Dune prequel series books that I did not read yet (I read all the original Dune series books by Frank Herbert many years ago, and I read two or more of the Dune prequel books by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson years ago) but who knows.

I would like to thank RedheadedBooklover for giving me some encouragement to finally (this post took way too much time for me to finish) finish this post after I had procrastinated and I let my thoughts and feelings toward it and the book slowly fade away, and if you like book reviews then check out her blog (website). 🙂

The end,

-John Jr

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