Saturday, March 17, 2007

An Incredible Trip Across America

American Gods (William Morrow, 2001 pgs. 465) by Neil Gaiman is a book that I've had on my shelf for ages. Thanks to the TBR Challenge, I finally pulled it down. And I'm SO GLAD I did!! It's a fantasy book, which is a fairly new genre for me. But I couldn't ask for a better book to solidify my new love for it! 5/5

"Shadow had done three years in prison. He was big enough and looked don't-fuck-with-me enough that his biggest problem was killing time. So he kept himself in shape, and taught himself coin tricks, and thought a lot about how much he loved his wife." And so begins our journey.

The book follows the adventures of ex-convict Shadow upon his (few day) early release from prison due to the death of his wife, Laura, in a car accident. He is hired by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday to act as an escort and bodyguard, and travels across America visiting Wednesday's colleagues and acquaintances. Mr. Wednesday, we come to find out is actually an incarnation of Odin the All-Father. Wednesday is recruiting American manifestations of the Old Gods of ancient mythology. Whenever someone came to America, they brought with them the Gods they believed in. Gods they worshipped. But these Gods have lost a lot of their power as their believers have decreased in number. And why is Wednesday recruiting Gods? Because the Storm is coming and there is going to be a war. A war against the new Gods of America....the Internet, the Media, Television and Hollywood, Technology, Computers....anything that Americans today worship.

I loved this book! Not only was it a great story, but I got a chance to learn a lot about mythology. We meet Odin, Loki (the mythical being of mischief), Anansi (a trickster and a God of West African Lore), Czernobog (a dark Slavic God), the Zorya (the guardian goddesses known as the Auroras). We also meet Mad Sweeney (a leprichan) , Johnny Appleseed, and Bliquis (the Queen of Sheba). At first, I was a bit confused because I just had no idea where this book was going. But the plot is drawn out very subtlely. We travel all across America to roadside stands and attractions. And I think Gaiman hit the nail on the head with this one. He shows us a different side to America. One of a country that is basically filled with Immigrants. And every person that has settled here brought a little piece of their homeland. Gaiman also shows us how fickle we really are. The Gods of Today won't be the Gods of Tomorrow. He definitely gets a "A" for effort! 5/5


Literary Feline said...

Oooo! I've been wanting to read a Neil Gaiman book for quite some time but he never seems to find his books never seem to find their way in my hands. This is a great review and another reason I shouldn't put reading his books much longer. Thanks!

Rhinoa said...

I need to get around to reading this and his other fiction books. I have read The Sandman graphic novels as well as Smoke and Mirrors and recently had Neverwhere recommended to me. Must put his books higher up on my list!

Aarti said...

I loved this book, too, Stephanie! I read it late last year. One day, I should get around to reading Anansi Boys.

And just because I dropped out of the challenges, that doesn't mean I'll stop reviewing the books I read :-) That will still happen!

Andi said...

Glad you liked it. It was my first Gaiman (read it a few years ago),and I'm really glad I picked it up. The only down side....Shadow's wife FREAKED ME OUT! Urrg!

raidergirl3 said...

Hi, I found you while I was looking for a 1900s book for the 15book/15 decade challenge.

I just finished American Gods as well, and I liked how Gaiman set up the world so subtlely that it all made sense. I loved the bitter Johnny Appleseed.

Stephanie said...

Wendy, Rhinoa...definitely read it if you get the chance!!

Aarti, I will most certainly be picking up The Anansi Boys!!

Andi...yeah, that dead wife that kept popping up WAS rather creepy!

Hey Raidergirl! Thanks for stopping by! I had a hard time finding all those decade books too! When Johnny Appleseed was railing on Paul Bunyan, I just had to laugh!

nessie said...

I love neil g! UI just reviewed Anansi Boys and adored it. It was my first as well.

Suey said...

This was the first book I got after joining Paper Back Swap. I can't wait to read it! But it may have to wait for my TBR NEXT year.

Carl V. said...

Great and concise review of a very massive, wonderful book. So glad you enjoyed it.

I highly recommend getting and listening to the unabridged audio version (I checked it out on CD from my local library). The reader is fantastic and he brings the story to life so very well. Afterwards I wanted to start it all over again.

Backcountry Muse said...

Stephanie, what I really want to know is how in the world you did the research to find a book that suited your taste for each of those decades??

That is an awesome challenge but, to be honest, I'd probably lose myself for days on end just picking the book to put in each slot.