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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An epic supernatural road trip which, when all is said and done, falls a little short of its potential.
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...
Published 5 months ago by D.T. Magus

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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Swollen beyond measure
Mr Gaiman tells us that this version (the "author's preferred text") is much enlarged from the original release. If this is so, then he would do well to listen to his editor next time, because there's some serious pruning needed here. As the book is aimed squarely at the US market (which seems to prefer a high weight to content ratio) it's hardly surprising that the...
Published on 9 Jun 2009 by Crookedmouth


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An epic supernatural road trip which, when all is said and done, falls a little short of its potential., 16 July 2014
By 
D.T. Magus (Shizuoka, Japan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: American Gods (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.
With a host of such great characters, it is a shame that the only character I never really clicked with was Shadow, the protagonist. Gaiman paints him as an observer for the majority of the novel - things just sort of happen to him and he goes along with it. It is only near the end where he starts taking a more pronounced role in the conflict and subsequently his own destiny. I found it was at this point, the book picked up steam after a long lull.
And that long lull is the biggest detriment to the novel as a whole. After the old gods have made their dramatic appearances and we learn what their plan entails, Shadow is abruptly cut off from the action and finds himself in the sleepy town of Lakeside. Here the plot almost completely loses it’s momentum as Gaiman focuses on the much more mundane drama of Lakeside’s residents and the town’s history, none of which is all that interesting. It does have a serviceable murder mystery sub plot, but I didn’t find it as interesting as the main plot line. It was during these middle chapters where i’ll come clean and say I almost gave up.
However with that in mind, i’m glad I powered on. The ending is largely satisfying although it is left open to interpretation, which I enjoyed. Looking back on the journey as a whole, it’s one which left some very strong images thanks to the vivid characters and their fight for survival. It definitely drags in the middle which prevents me from wholeheartedly recommending it, but I think if you have the patience to see it through, “American Gods” is a road trip you’ll be glad to have embarked on.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Didn't want it to end..., 17 Sep 2012
By 
G. Francis "GeorgeB27" (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: American Gods (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Götterdämmerung, 24 Nov 2014
By 
P. G. Harris - See all my reviews
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This review is from: American Gods (Paperback)
Shadow is nearing the end of his prison sentence for assault. Shortly before his release date he is called into the governor's office to be told of the death of his beloved wife Laura. Stunned and bereft, he is released early and on the way home he makes the acquaintance of the mysterious Mr Wednesday, who offers him an ill defined job, the contract for which is sealed by Shadow's drinking large quantities of mead.

The premise of American Gods is that every race and nationality settling in America has, by worshipping its own Gods, brought them to the new world. However in a society where they are largely forgotten they have lost many of their powers, but live on in the margins. It is their world into which Mr Wednesday (it shouldn't take too much thought to work out his true identity) draws Shadow to act as an odd job man, bodyguard and courier. It is a world where the cultural melting pot of America is mirrored in a bewildering mix of Gods and deities from Norse, Egyptian, Indian, middle European, Native American, and many other religions and mythologies.

However the old Gods are under threat as America worships the car, the computer and capitalism, and these new subjects of devotion become aggressively embodied, seeking to wipe out their forbears.

American Gods is a massively ambitious work, seeking to explore, through this fantastical netherworld, the very soul of America. It is also an interesting work to categorise. Very obviously it is a work of fantasy. However, if Gaiman wasn't already pigeon-holed as a genre writer, and perhaps if he wasn't a Brit writing about America, this could easily be seen as a magical realist work.

It is a very dark, multi-stranded book, asking, for example, through a small town in which Shadow becomes a temporary resident, to what extent America, and by extrapolation we, ourselves , are prepared to turn a blind eye to evil in order to preserve a comfortable, affluent lifestyle. While setting up a war between the old Gods and the new, Gaiman also suggests that behind it all, humankind's true, and enduring, Gods are chaos, death and destruction.

American Gods is almost Reithian in the extent to which it entertains, educates and informs. For instance, before reading it I knew nothing of the death of the "All Father" tied to a tree with a spear in his side. That his son later suffers the same fate as part of saving America echoes the Christian story in an almost deafening manner.

Finally, I would say that Gaiman is a wonderful writer of prose, his use of language is clever, economical and evocative. To give just one, small, example which struck me "Then she jumped down from the sill, onto the bed,where she wrapped herself into a curl of fur, and went back to sleep, a circle of cat on the old counterpane."

Highly recommended.
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82 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big book, big ideas, 30 Nov 2005
This review is from: American Gods (Paperback)
American Gods is a big book in more ways than one; not only is it over six hundred pages long, but it deals with big ideas. The main character, Shadow, has been released from prison a few days early in order to be able to attend his wife's funeral. On the way home, he's recruited buy the mysterious Mr Wednesday.
It eventually transpires that Shadow has been recruited into a war between gods; the old gods, brought to America by the various immigrants over time, and the new gods of television and media and so forth.
The nice thing about this book is the amount of mythology hidden to a lesser or greater extent in the storytelling. Some of the gods are more easily recognisable than others; the jump from "Mr Nancy" to "Anansi", for instance, is not so great, whereas the link between Mr Wednesday to Odin is not as immediately obvious. But you don't have to have much grounding in mythology to be able to enjoy the book, which is one of the great things about it; there are plenty of layers to be unpicked, if you're that way inclined, but on the other hand, you can just sit back and enjoy Neil Gaiman's masterful storytelling.
The added benefit of this particular edition is the author interview in the back, which gives that extra little insight into the book. It's apparently also the author's preferred text, though having read both versions, I have to say that for the reader it makes little difference.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bucketloads of imagination....., 26 Oct 2011
By 
Wynne Kelly "Kellydoll" (Coventry, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: American Gods (Paperback)
Not being a fan of "fantasy" novels I knew from the outset that this was probably not going to be my cup of tea. However it came highly recommended by a young family member so I decided to give it a go.

American Gods is essentially a road trip book and is written with great energy and bucketloads of imagination. The main premise is that gods die when they are forgotten but many have been brought to the New World by immigrants and are still around and impinging on the lives of humans. Some of the gods are more easy to identify than others (Mr Wednesday=Odin, Mr Nancy=Anansi and Low Key=Loki). In Shadow (the main protagonist) the analogy with Christianity is implicit - the tree, death, resurrection, the wound in the side.

Shadow's journey criss-crossing the United States is told from the outsider's viewpoint. He passes through towns with fascinating names: Thebes, Peru, Cairo etc. and meets equally fascinating characters.

This is a big novel packed with action and ideas but a bit rambling and ragged in parts. However I can understand its appeal - it is energetic, witty and imaginative.

At one point a character says "All things have rules." "Yeah," said Shadow, "But nobody tells me what they are." As a new reader to this genre I felt the same!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Probably not in Kansas anymore....Fantasy genre undergoes modernisation!, 26 Sep 2014
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This review is from: American Gods (Kindle Edition)
First time reading this author. The story draws on familiar devices and mythology: an alternative or parallel reality which can be accessed either by certain people or at certain locations where time and space behave differently; old gods are borrowed and new gods fabricated. Any fan of fantasy will find familiar themes.
However, it also felt really fresh. Fantasy in a very modern setting. I was hooked almost immediately.
Described as an on the road novel, the narrative is interwoven with dream sequences or alternative reality sequences and the reader is introduced to a large cast of characters along the way. Some are forgotten gods transplanted to the Americas centuries ago, only to fade out of memory, existing in the modern world as shadows of their former selves, hidden in plain sight, so to speak. Some are fully realised, three dimensional players; others contributing only brief but enigmatic appearances.
The apparent antagonism between the old and the new gods, generated by human worship of technology, forms a loose framework for the plot. Which feels loose all the way through. This isn't a criticism. I felt it was in keeping with the dream like quality of the whole. You are never quite sure whether you are in Kansas or not.
Following the main protagonist, Shadow, through this journey to its conclusion was a rewarding experience for me. I thought the writing was really good and in parts, beautiful. It was dark, engaging, thought provoking and weird in the very best way. And, I liked the ending! This kindle copy according to the foreword is the full authors edition, published for the American market. I didn't read the first published version and I'm glad I didn't. I can't see how this one could be bettered.
More than just good fantasy fiction. Thoroughly recommend!
Good kindle copy, although American spelling...small niggle really.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Swollen beyond measure, 9 Jun 2009
By 
Crookedmouth ":-/" (As seen on iPlayer) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: American Gods (Paperback)
Mr Gaiman tells us that this version (the "author's preferred text") is much enlarged from the original release. If this is so, then he would do well to listen to his editor next time, because there's some serious pruning needed here. As the book is aimed squarely at the US market (which seems to prefer a high weight to content ratio) it's hardly surprising that the editing process added pages rather than (and this is the more traditional function of an edit) remove them.

All that said, I actually enjoyed the book to begin with. It's witty, fun, absorbing and all that, and covers a lot of ground. The allegory is hardly subtle, and it reads like Stephen King on incense, but the rambling nature of the plot is engaging enough. In short, it's a supernatural road trip addressing the conflict between the old world gods and the icons of the technological age set against a small town American backdrop.

Nuff said: I have to admit that the scale of the project got the better of me in the end and I had to skim the last couple of chapters. The "war between the gods" that the story had been leading up to since the first page barely occupied more than a couple of paragraphs and seriously let the whole story down. Indeed, the ending is a bit of a damp squib all 'round.

I'm trying "Neverwhere" next, just to give Mr G a fair crack of the whip. However, I'm afraid that it's the "author's preferred text" (shudder).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It started so well, but was ultimately disappointing, 27 Feb 2014
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This review is from: American Gods (Paperback)
This was my first Neil Gaiman novel (although I had seen the film Stardust without realising who the author was), and I do think he writes very well. The plot and the characters began so promisingly, but by the end I was left feeling mildly dissatisfied. The themes could have been expanded and enriched - the central concept is such an original idea - but somehow the drive and passion seemed to go out of the narrative about two thirds of the way through. I'd love to have seen Stephen King have a crack at this in his heyday.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning: Breaks down conventional barriers of fantasy, 10 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: American Gods (Paperback)
I have never read anything by Neil Gaiman before and I am not a comic book fan so, I am afraid, I had never encountered his Sandman escapades. My normal choice of reading is crime fiction with a smattering of decent horror and sci-fi thrown in. I have never been a great fan of the Dungeons/Dragons type of Fantasy or the epic series that often typifies this genre.
I saw a review of American Gods on the Amazon site and was enthralled and enticed by the synopsis of the story, so I decided to buy a copy. This was one of the best decisions I have made this year.
American Gods is an epic in it's own right that literally breaks down the barriers of conventional fantasy writing. For anyone with any degree of knowledge or interest in mythology, and with a mind that doesn't believe in accepting the status quo, this book will take you on journeys of pure joy.
One of your other reviewers likened this to a mix of Stephen King and Clive Barker, and I would have to say that this is a fairly good comparison with the emphasis on the 'Weaveworld' style of Barker and the down-home everyday America writing of Stephen King that makes his dialogue flow and draw you in.
American Gods is a story that I did not want to end. I doubt if there will be a better book written in the same vein.
This is a story that I could not hope to synopsise myself as I think that every reader will form their own personal relationships with the book and will each gain their own rewards depending on their literary leanings.
I do not think I will be rushing out to buy all Neil Gaiman's other books, as I do not think he will have equalled American Gods in any of his previous writings, but I will keep a very close eye on what he comes up with next!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only in America, 12 Jan 2005
By 
Amazon Customer "Gav" (Cardiff, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: American Gods (Paperback)
Over 628 pages American Gods reacquaints us with some forgotten gods and introduces some new ones: Media, Mr Town, and others who feed off our prayers and sacrifices. But being a god does not mean much when you are no longer powerful. So in order to survive the new gods are out to destroy the old gods in the coming storm.

This novel made me ask what does happen to gods when we no longer believe in them? It appears that they are stuck in Godless America, trapped after they have been forgotten by the people that brought them to its shores.

We are treated to a grand scale story on a human stage as we see the story unfold through Shadows interactions with characters mythology and Central America.

The story telling is first rate, a web that Anansi would be proud of. The main story is interjected with sidebars and interludes which rather than detracting from the tale enhance the sense of mystery and understanding.

The key to good story telling is in the way it flows. I couldn't see the twists coming but afterwards I was kicking myself as all the clues are there. It's like a good murder mystery knowing that the information isn't being kept from you, you just have to figure it out, or knowing that you could work it all out if you wanted but instead sitting back and watching it enfold instead.

Though it isn't all magical there were points where I was thinking just get on with it, not because I wasn't enjoying it, but because they was too much information being given and there was other places that I wanted to know more about.

I don't think the story could have be told in many less pages. There was a place at the end where the battle was fought and won that I thought it was all over, only to find a further fifty pages of revelations.
I'd love to revisit this world of lost gods can we have some more tales Neil? Just a couple short stories? Anything?
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American Gods
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
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