American Gods by Neil Gaiman (first published in 2001; this edition published in 2005 by Headline Review)
About the book:
Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break. Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, American Gods takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what – and who – it finds there…
Shadow’s wife dies unexpectedly while he’s in jail, which leaves him lost, rather broken, and unsure about what he’s now going to do with his life. In steps Wednesday, an enigmatic man with a tendency to get his way. Together, they go on an epic road trip across America, making friends and evading foes… But there’s more to Wednesday and his friends than meets the eye.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman is one of those books that you simply cannot read in one sitting; there’s simply too many intricacies to take in, to mull over, to savour.
It took me a month of reading to finally complete the novel, not because I found anything negative about the work, but because there was this assumption that somewhere, hidden in those pages, all the secrets of the universe waited to be discovered.
I know. It’s silly to think a fictitious tale about old gods and new gods would hold the answers to everything, but that’s exactly how it felt at times. The work of a master wordsmith or… maybe the work of a guardian who holds the universe’s secrets?
It’s difficult to separate the two ideas when it comes to Neil Gaiman. Then again, perhaps the two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive.
This novel, which touches on a variety of subjects, is possibly one of the greatest literary masterpieces of the modern era. It is relevant, contemporary, somewhat relatable, and it delves into the human mind on more than one occasion.
Yes, some may find the work difficult to understand, or struggle to see past the religious figures who grace the pages of American Gods (some may even be offended by how Neil Gaiman humanises these religious figures), but there is something incredibly important about the work.
I can sing my praises from morning to night, but the truth is American Gods isn’t for everyone. And if you haven’t read a book by Neil Gaiman before, I’d suggest you start with something else (The Ocean at the End of the Lane) in order to understand how the author’s mind works.
All in all, a bloody good book in my opinion.
WATCH: American Gods TV adaptation trailer
Read more of Monique’s reviews on her blog.
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