by Neil Gaiman
I have an odd relationship with this book. I first read it in 2007 after Stephen King recommended it in Entertainment Weekly. I’d never heard of Gaiman before and I thought I’d check it out. Whoa.
So as most people who have read Gaiman before might know, American Gods might not be the best place to start with his work. It is dense and complex. It has weird plot lines and skips across the entire country. And yet there’s something about it that just hooks you. After reading it I went on to devour Neverwhere, Anansi Boys, Coraline, Stardust, The Graveyard Book, Good Omens and Fragile Things.
The first time I read the book I think I was so distracted by the strangeness of the plot that I missed the depth of the story. There's so much to take in and it's such a wild tale that I couldn't appreciate it fully until the second time. Part mystery, part fantasy, part character study, American Gods is a mixture of so many things. There are too many characters to mention, but each one is more creatively drawn than the last.
A man name Shadow finds out his wife has died in a car crash only days before he’s being released from prison. Soon he meets a man named Wednesday and against his better judgment he agrees to work for him. The rest of the plot defies explanation, but rest assured it’s a wonderful ride. Whether Shadow is exploring the ineffable world of The House on the Rock or he’s hunkered down in a sleepy town of Lakeside, it’s hard not to root for him.
BOTTOM LINE: Weird and wonderful, Gaiman manages to infuse his love of fantasy into an epic road trip novel. Re-reading this one doubled my appreciation for both the novel and the author. I was able to focus more on the overall story and less on the odd elements this time. This is not the best novel to read if you aren’t sure if you’ll like Gaiman. Read it when you already love his work and only if you like fantasy and aren’t easily offended.
I read this for the R.I.P. Challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.