Customer Review

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, but a feeling of deja vu., 28 Nov. 2002
This review is from: American Gods (Paperback)
Neil Gaiman is a writer of considerable talent and ability, but with preoccupations that colour all his work. The power of imagination, old gods and other supernatural beings forgotten by time, and the power of tradition and ritual are consistent themes within his works. As a reader raised by a decade of his Sandman comic, I came to American Gods with a good deal of expectation and left it feeling rather disappointed because it's nothing new. If you've read the 'Brief Lives' story in Sandman, then you've very much read American Gods, or at least got many of the ideas from it.
The plot is essentially a road trip wherein the protagonist travels to 'places of power' around America (i.e. places that have significant mystical or emotional resonance) and meets the gods whom successive waves of immigrants (Egyptian, Norse, Russian, Eastern European, Mexican, etc...) have brought with them to the United States, all of them now lacking power or focus as belief in them has drifted away.
The story itself is of the conflict between old & new gods (the internet, the media, and so on) but that's irrelevant. More important to the story are ideas and settings, and Gaiman has used all these ideas and setting before - which is what results in the book being a disappointment. He has tremendous skill with dialogue, and captures the American Idiom wonderfully, but the repetition of ideas from earlier work (with nothing new added), and also the fact that the protagonist meets gods everywhere (indeed, one sometimes suspects that America has no population other than dispossessed deities, so few normal people does he meet), leads me to deduct one star from five.
If you aren't familiar with Gaimans work, you're in for something of a treat. If you are familiar with his work, then, plotwise, you won't find anything here that you haven't read before. However, his writing is strong and characterisation consistent enough for the feelings of mild déjà vu upon reading this book to be at worst a nagging feeling, and never does it distract too badly from an enjoyable read.
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