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American Gods Paperback – 19 Sep 2005

376 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (19 Sept. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755322819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755322817
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (376 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Neil Gaiman is a tour de force of creative talent. He is the bestselling author of Coraline and Stardust, both of which are major motion films. Neil also co-wrote the script for Beowulf starring Anthony Hopkins and Angeline Jolie. He is the creator/writer of the award-winning Sandman comic series and has written several books for children. His latest title, The Graveyard Book, won the Teenage Booktrust Prize 2009. Neil has been immortalised in song by Tori Amos, and is a songwriter himself. His official website now has more than one million unique visitors each month, and his online journal is syndicated to thousands of blog readers every day.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Within just a few pages of Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods, he commandingly reveals that he is at his considerable best with this disturbing and dark journey into the hidden soul of America. Gaiman, one of the most talented and imaginative writers at work today, achieved nigh-legendary status with his comic Sandman, which took the genre to heights that even the equally talented Alan Moore had not attained; Gaiman's subsequent career as a novelist has displayed the same glittering inventiveness and exquisite use of language.

Gaiman's protagonist Shadow has patiently done his time in prison. But as the moment of his release approaches, he begins to sense that some unnamed disaster is lying in wait for him. As he makes his way home, he encounters the mysterious Mr Wednesday, who appears to be both a refugee from a distant country at war and the King of America. And perhaps even a god. As Shadow and Mr Wednesday begin a bizarre odyssey across the United States, solving murders is only one of their accomplishments. With an epic storm of supernatural origin brewing, one questions whether they will be destroyed before Shadow pays the price for grim mistakes in his past.

The use of language here is impeccable, and it is wedded to a surreal narrative that brings out the most quirky and unsettling aspects of Gaiman's imagination. Forget Gaiman the Guru: just enjoy Gaiman the consummate writer:

He opened his mouth to catch the rain as it fell, moistening his cracked lips and his dry tongue, wetting the ropes that bound him to the trunk of the tree. There was a flash of lightning so bright it fell like a blow to his eyes, transforming the world into an intense panorama of image and after-image. The wind tugged at Shadow, trying to pull him from the tree, flaying him, cutting to the bone. Shadow knew in his soul that the real storm had truly begun...
--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


A very fine and imaginative writer (The Times)

'Gaiman has a rich imagination...and an ability to tackle large themes' (Philip Pullman)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This is a story about ancient gods and their struggle to survive in a world where their fickle worshippers have abandoned them in favour of advertisements, technology and consumerism. Shadow is an ex-con who gets catapulted into a crazy world where he finds himself helping the old gods reclaim their relevance. Throughout the book, we follow Shadow on his journey through America as the sidekick of the enigmatic Wednesday, recruiting disenchanted gods to help win a war that will bring them back to their former glories.
If the premise sounds intriguing, rest assured that it is, unfortunately the execution lets it down slightly. The best parts of the book are the parts spent encountering the old gods who have been forced to live human lives in America after their once loyal worshippers have either died or forgotten them. More interesting still are the occasional glimpses into the gods’ true forms which are spectacular and often terrifying in equal measure. The Ifrit and The Queen of Seba scenes are just a few that spring to mind. There is no denying the Gaiman’s imagination is one of the best in modern fiction, and “American Gods” never falters in the imagination department .
Another commendable aspect is the characters themselves. From the ever mysterious Wednesday to the fear-inducing Czernobog, Gaiman’s characters are a unique and interesting bunch with a strong motive directing their actions. Whilst it is natural for the reader to back the cause of the old gods, it is never made explicit that they have morally superior reasons for their actions than the new gods do. This lends their exploits some moral ambiguity, where it is left to the reader to decide which group is on the side of right, or indeed whether either of them are.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Sept. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This republished version of Neil Gaiman's novel from 2001 is like a director's cut of a movie. Originally differently edited, Gaiman here releases the book he originally wrote, more or less.

It is one of those shambling, rambling, picaresque Don Quixote type tall tales - except the landscape is remarkably dark, gothic, terrifying and bloody, as well as quirky, inventive and playful.

A mysterious man, Shadow, whose rather mythic identity will eventually be revealed is released from his prison sentence early. And from then on, things go abysmally wrong. The symbolically named Shadow, who indeed, always seems to be in someone's, stumbles into a complex ancient battleground of mankind's yearning dreams, of the stories we told ourselves of gods and heroes, past and present, of what we worshipped and adored.

Gaiman peoples America with the various gods brought from various parts of the globe, by those who landed on her shores, from history and from prehistory. Bellicose Norse Gods rub shoulders with matriarchal pagans from Africa, Egyptian animal headed gods accompany leprechauns and pixies. Savage humour and horrific zombies party together. Orpheus makes a different kind of journey into a different kind of Hades, and Eurydice is far from a pretty sight.

Ancient gods like these have been forgotten, but linger on, and modern America worships new myths, creates new creatures of power - mass media, technology - paler but no less violent gods, and as demanding of human sacrifice.

I'm not absolutely certain (not having read the original) whether the 'writer's cut' improves the no doubt rather less rambling version of 10 years ago.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By G. Francis on 17 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will keep this short. I read this when it came out and enjoyed it, almost 10 years on I picked it up again and loved it. I have found myself thinking about the book when away from it, it has a magical effect, so fantastical yet so grounded in reality that you will never look at a cat or an undertaker in quite the same way. I am very excited to hear that HBO are planning a series based on it and the author is writing a sequel... Can't wait! If you like your fantasy a little dark, a little humorous, a little real, this is the book for you!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Fermor on 11 July 2012
Format: Paperback
'American Gods' is a surreal exploration of the ways in which spiritual and temporal 'Gods' have entered into a vicious struggle to retain the adoration, or even just the attention, of the humans that brought them into being in the first place. There are no rules here, in a world populated by Gods whose power is only as potent as the belief that fuels their existence.

The main protagonist, Shadow, is likable and compelling. He offers a deadpan counterpoint to the weirdness of the god-filled world in which he finds himself. His mental equilibrium helps the reader to safely negotiate the strangeness into which he is released after serving time in jail for committing GBH.

He soon meets Wednesday, who employs him for reasons that slowly become apparent as the story ensues. He provides an equally compelling character to enjoy. His dubious moral compass serves to add to his intrigue, while his humour and bravado make him a character who you never quite trust but nonetheless root for.

This is a glitzy, showy beast of a novel that shines with Gaiman's creative flair. I loved the way that all the various mythologies were interwoven within the fabric of this novel and Shadow's deadpan view of the whole is an interesting complement to the wackiness of the prose.

To justify giving this 4 stars rather than 5, I would say that the conclusion to the novel does not really live up to the promise of the preceding narrative. I was looking for something a bit more profound, perhaps mistakenly, and felt a little like I imagine one of Wednesday's victims might once the mechanics behind one of his confidence tricks has been revealed.

Magic loses its joy once it is explained and, while the story dazzled me, the ending ensured that the joy I had in it would not endure quite as long as it should have if it had performed the miracle I was craving!
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