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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I, personally, adored this book. I loved the descriptive art Gaiman used throughout the story, whether he was describing a character or an atmosphere... he made you feel it. This is by far, one of the most intriguing, and fascinating books I have ever read, and I loved every minute of it. :)
Published on Sept. 20 2006 by Natalie R. Dinn

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing concoction that never truly gels
Neil Gaiman's "American Gods", an intentionally oxymoronic title, is about the impending battle between the old gods (pick your poison: Odin, Loki, Vishnu, etc.) and the "new" (junk culture: TV, advertising, gambling, etc.). Stuck in the middle waiting to find out his destiny is a mortal man named Shadow. Soon to be released from jail, Shadow looks...
Published on May 29 2002 by Mike Stone


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Sept. 20 2006
By 
Natalie R. Dinn "Nat" (Edmonton, AB CANADA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I, personally, adored this book. I loved the descriptive art Gaiman used throughout the story, whether he was describing a character or an atmosphere... he made you feel it. This is by far, one of the most intriguing, and fascinating books I have ever read, and I loved every minute of it. :)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing concoction that never truly gels, May 29 2002
Neil Gaiman's "American Gods", an intentionally oxymoronic title, is about the impending battle between the old gods (pick your poison: Odin, Loki, Vishnu, etc.) and the "new" (junk culture: TV, advertising, gambling, etc.). Stuck in the middle waiting to find out his destiny is a mortal man named Shadow. Soon to be released from jail, Shadow looks forward to a reunion with his wife Laura. Sadly, this reunion is not to be (or, it is not to be in the way Shadow envisions it). Shadow, stricken by grief, is thus enlisted in a battle, one that may decide the fate of the world, by a mysterious man named Wednesday.
Similar thematic territory was covered, with much more panache and verve, by Douglas Adams ("The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul") and by Neil's "Good Omens" writing partner, Terry Pratchett ("Small Gods"). Both books took a sidelong glance at the subject of modern deities and found an awful lot of humour there. Gaiman treats his subject with solemnity, and to my mind this is one of the reasons why the book suffers.
Fortunately, the story begins with a dramatic bang. Gaiman sets up his characters well, and then proceeds to create the universe in which they will live. He never betrays the beginning, but at times he lets the narrative (or, to describe it more accurately, the loose assemblage of scenes) get away from him. "I feel like I'm in a world with its own sense of logic. It's own rules," Shadow notes at one point early on. "I'm just going along with it, you know?" This is true, and it begins as a wonderful creation in Gaiman's hands. But later Shadow becomes more frustrated with the direction his life has taken: "Nobody tells me what [the rules] are. You keep talking about the goddamn rules, I don't even know what game you people are playing." This kind of frustration seeps into the reader's thoughts as well. Gaiman takes great care in hiding his motivations from both his character and his audience. You keep expecting a payoff, where the rules are explained, at least implicitly. But that rarely happens, and when it does it is quite unsatisfactory.
He also neglects to assemble a unifying narrative. What we have, instead, is an extended version of 'variations on a theme'. Shadow's adventures, although different and interesting every time, still follow the same basic formula. It becomes tiresome after a while. And what narrative it does have goes on for far too long. "Not only are there no happy endings," someone says near the end, "there aren't even any endings." Too true in this case. Further complicating things is the fact that this book has both an epilogue and a postscript. Gaiman may not have wanted to leave the world he's created, but the reader can't wait for it to finally be over.
All that being said, there are moments here that carry a tremendous amount of stark weight. One scene, at an odd boarding house, has Shadow losing a game of checkers only to face a frightening punishment: a sledgehammer to the head. Thankfully, he's able to put it off. Or is he? Later, we see Shadow in a moment of extreme sacrifice. Gaiman's descriptions of the broken man's thoughts in this chapter are heartbreaking, and believably authentic. The scenes in Lakeside, a small-town safe haven, if taken on their own (with some obvious re-working) might have made a wonderful self-contained short story. I just wish that Gaiman had found a way to string these events together in a unifying manner. Out of nowhere, you find Shadow talking to Lucille Ball, as Lucy Ricardo, on an old black-and-white TV. Or, apropos of nothing, Gaiman's narrator barges in to admit to the fictionality of the story he is telling: "None of this can actually be happening. If it makes you more comfortable, you could simply think of it as a metaphor." These are all great bits of writing, but they don't fit together to make a cohesive whole.
"American Gods", for me, is a very frustrating read, for just these reasons. It has boundless potential, but at every turn Gaiman fails to reach the high levels he's aiming for. It makes for a powerful work, one that's often boring, at times quite frustrating, but in moments quite exhilarating. At nearly 600 pages, anything is going to be hit or miss. I was just hoping for a few more hits from Gaiman, a writer I've admired in the past. I admire him here, too. I just didn't enjoy him that much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Way, Way Too Long, June 23 2002
By A Customer
I'm sorry to have the only negative review thus far, but I've got to be honest. "Epic" is a good word for this book, but it is not a good book.
There are too many characters, many different plots (which I normally don't mind, but in this case I found them confusing), and the main "plot" was (in my mind) not a plot at all, but a mish-mash of stories about old gods from various parts of the world and how they had lost their power in today's world.
Some of the subplots (such as the murder mystery) and the inhabitants of the town of Lakeside were brief respites from the otherwise tiresome, dragged out, dark, and sad aspects of this book. I found myself not really caring about any of the "gods", and found the resolution of their "battle" anticlimactic. The main character's fate is comparable to Jesus dying for the benefit of others; then he is resurrected, but this event just doesn't make sense in the context of the book.
I would advise avoidance of this book unless you want something long, dreary, and scattered. Usually I take books I've read to the library for others to read. This one I am tempted to throw in the recycle bin.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring as King in his worst moments, May 15 2002
By 
Eliver (Milano, Italy) - See all my reviews
I can't remember another time I got so bored reading a book. I don't know why Gaiman had to try to be "as good as Stephen King or your money back". I wish it were true, the "money back" part.. Remember "Insomnia"? "American gods" is just as boring. The story just never grips you: in the first 150 pages (the total length of some masterpieces) NOTHING happens, absolutely nothing, nada! I don't think I'll buy Gaiman again in the future. And BTW "Neverwhere" was not bad at all!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaiman's masterpiece, July 7 2011
By 
G. Larouche (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Before picking up "American Gods", I had only read one other book by Neil Gaiman, "Neverwhere", which I had loved. "American Gods" is completely different, but mind-boggling and amazing. I spent all weekend at home reading it; I simply couldn't put it down for more than hour without compulsively going back to it.

It is a rather complicated story to recap, but in essence, it follows the taciturn character of Shadow, as he is released from prison and hired my the mysterious Wednesday as a bodyguard. Wednesday travels all over the United-States to talk to other similarly strange people, who turn out to be the gods of the Old World, brought to America by immigrants and kept alive through belief, sacrifice and faith. But the New World is bad for them, and they are loosing power to the newer gods of the Western World: money, media, technology...

The meticulous research that went into producing this amazing novel is impressive. The writing style can be slow, but it is always compelling, sending chills down your spine and the compulsive need to turn the page and see what will happen next in this clash of old and new gods.

I read a lot of books, and few books have impressed me and kept me on edge until the last line as "American Gods" did. I believe it to be Gaiman's finest work. People with interest in mythology and history will love this, as will fans of strange sci-fi/fantasy works, and ultimately, anyone who enjoys good literature and amazing writing. I can't recommend it enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Would have been an interesting short story...., May 25 2002
I think Gaiman's story concept was interesting, but lacked real character development, and the flow of the story was mired in clunky plot twists. Had this been written as a short story it could have potentially held my interest, but as a novel? I couldn't even finish it.
Why was Shadow never surprised, shocked, or at all emotional in response to the numerous surreal circumstances he encountered? I never felt engaged me in the story... who the hell cares what happens to Shadow?
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4.0 out of 5 stars ETBR - American Gods, July 19 2004
By 
Benjamin Seeberger (Emerald Hills, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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1. Reflections: When this book was written, it became an immediate bestseller. Previously, Gaiman had only been known for his lengthy and verbose Sandman graphic novels, more of a specialist collection of the strange and beautiful. Why did people respond so well to American Gods?
2. Thematics: American Gods continually claims that the existence of gods is only because we need them, and when we lose the need, they fade into oblivion. Does Gaiman offer any solutions to this problem?
3. Characterization: From the moment we are introduced to him Shadow remains a mystery. As we follow him on his journey, it could be said that he is a walking shadow. Yet there is a deeper significance of his name. What is it?
4. Symbolism: Gaiman asserts that many objects in today's world, such as historical monuments, popular festivals, and contemporary philosophies, had their roots in a pan-theological foundation, or from the hands of many gods. What examples do you see in American Gods? What examples do you see that Gaiman doesn't mention?
5. Authorship: In Gaiman's other works, he often writes about similar themes. The gods in the contemporary world, the reality of the dream, the immortal nature of the spirit world, the failing of the gods to appease mortals and thus are forgotten, the mastery of the human over the material but limited in the spiritual: these are all themes be tries to work into his books. In what ways does Gaiman break with his tradition in American Gods? In what ways has his philosophy changed by becoming a novelist?
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not for Anyone from the Northern Midwest!, July 1 2004
I went into this book with high expectations and was disappointed even more than expected. As usual, Gaiman is one of the best idea men ever. Unfortunately his writing is still a bit torturous in such a long format. I found the characters a bit fleeting or too shallow. Many of the characters seemed skimmed over, but when he did indulge us, they often disappeared, never to be heard of again. Overall, the idea was awesome, but it simply didn't pan out as well as it could have. Stick to his shorter stories, or books he worked on with other, more experienced authors.
My biggest gripe with this book is the obvious lack of research. If you are going to set so much of your book in a select region of the country, you should visit it.... in the winter. As a resident of Northern Wisconsin, I found myself cringing far too much. Not only were the characters off, but I don't think he even consulted a map when picking locations. We have a lot of interesting crazies and stereotypes up here, but oddly he didn't hit any of them. If you have never been to the Upper Midwest, I'm sure you won't even notice, but if you live up here, read something else.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Prejudices confirmed., June 24 2004
By 
Mark Silcox (The American Southwest.) - See all my reviews
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I approached this book in a mood of some grouchiness. It had just won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards when I started reading it, and I was incensed. Another Joseph Campbell-esque piece of New-Agey balderdash masquerading (apparently successfully) as speculative fiction, I thought to meself.
And you know what? It's not that I was really even all that wrong...but the book is fantastic, regardless. Like most writers who cut their teeth on comic books (think Michael Chabon) Gaiman is better at short vignettes and set-pieces than he is at constructing a plot or drawing up particularly memorable characters. But this novel is so rich with vivid scenes and conversations and digressions that it's actually a quick read, even though by the end I wasn't entirely sure that it all added up to a whole lot.
I didn't even end up minding that the whole story was designed around the tired old "the Gods only exist because we believe in them" conceit. Because the gods that Gaiman thinks up really are magnificent creations. There's one scene where his protagonist has a conversation with the God that inhabits his television that still makes me shudder just to think about.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Book Review of American Gods, May 26 2004
By 
British writer Neil Gaiman seems an unlikely candidate as one who would attempt a novel that seeks out the heart of America because he is not from here. In American Gods, he introduces us to old gods and the modern technological gods of modern life.
Gaiman is experienced in the field of mythology as he has already written several novels pertaining to the topic. He wrote The Sandman, a comic-book series, along with Good Omens, the dark fantasy Neverwhere, Smoke and Mirrors, a collection of short stories and poems, and Stardust.
American Gods revolves around Shadow on an adventure across America. Shadow's name describes his character in that while he is likable, kind, and motivated by compassion, he is also troubled. In effect he is a ghost, wondering without purpose.
After serving three years in prison for aggravated assault, Shadow is released to mourn the death of his wife, Laura, and best friend. Homeless, wifeless, friendless, and jobless, Shadow finds his life nonexistent. When a strange old man calling himself Wednesday offers Shadow a job as an errand boy, he has no reason not to accept. Shadow spends much of his time wondering about his role in all this. Laura's ghost comes to him several times and bails him out of trouble.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mystery in the form of fantasy. And people who are interested in mythical gods can appreciate how they are represented in modern form in American Gods
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American Gods: A Novel
American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman (Hardcover - June 20 2011)
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