In the spirit of total honesty I must admit that I LOVE everything that Neil Gaiman writes, so this review is going to be full of admiration for this book. This is also not the first time that I have read this book – with the TV series on the horizon I could not help myself re-reading. Even though this does not help me to reduce my TBR in the slightest 😩
This is one of those books that people tend to love or hate; I am firmly in the ‘I love this book’ camp. The story follows Shadow, who is not always an easy guy to like. Newly released from prison, he encounters Mr Wednesday and they begin a journey together across a large section of America. Mr Wednesday is a hustler, but also so much more. He introduces Shadow to a variety of characters along the way; in the main they are gods who were brought to America by people from across the world many years before. There is also a really tall leprechaun!
These gods are not as strong as they once were as belief in them is starting to wane. The old gods are being challenged by newer gods; technology, media and many others. Throughout the book there is an awareness that there will be some sort of showdown between the old gods and the new, but that is just one aspect of this multi-layer novel. There is also the sense that Shadow is in way over his head, and he does endure more than most people would even be able to imagine.
One of the aspects I enjoyed the most was the feeling that there was more going on than immediately met the eye. Who is Mr Wednesday? Even the old gods don’t seem to fully trust him, should the reader? Why is Shadow so important to the story (other than to be the character who is as amazed by the gods as the reader)? Which side should the reader be rooting for? This book leaves you guessing right until the end about what is actually going on.
Gaiman pulls together an amazing string of complex characters to create a world that is fantastical, yet relatable at the same time. Each character has flaws that the reader can relate to, but it is also easy for the reader to feel sympathy for them at times. Even those characters who initially appear beyond redemption or sympathy.
This book is a must for Neil Gaiman fans; his love for mythology shines through. Gaiman takes him time building this world, and each character jumps off the page. The framework of the story is great, Gaiman’s attention to detail adds depth, but it is the beautiful writing filled with both direction and misdirection that kept me hooked.
The book is aimed at an adult audience and there is sex, violence and language throughout. This is an epic story that includes themes that are relatable and takes the reader on one heck of a journey.
Have you read American Gods? Are you watching the TV series? Let me know what you think about the book or TV series in the comments below.
See you soon