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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes My Top 10 Books List
This is an absolutely fabulous book, and a must read for all fans of mythology and meta-mythology. It absolutely blew me away, and stayed in my thoughts for many, many days after I was done reading it.

This book was my introduction to Gaiman, and I still think it is his best (although his other stuff is great too).
Published on Feb. 16 2007 by Blair Snider

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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 Makes My Top 10 Books List, Feb. 16 2007
By 
Blair Snider (Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: American Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
This is an absolutely fabulous book, and a must read for all fans of mythology and meta-mythology. It absolutely blew me away, and stayed in my thoughts for many, many days after I was done reading it.

This book was my introduction to Gaiman, and I still think it is his best (although his other stuff is great too).
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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)   
This review is from: American Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
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
This review is from: American Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
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
This review is from: American Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
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
This review is from: American Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
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 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: American Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
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
This review is from: American Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Twisted and clever, Jan. 16 2010
By 
B. A. Scharf (BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: American Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a very weird story. All the negative reviews have good points - this book is long, fragmented, confusing, twisted ... but it's also clever, funny, poignant and moving.

It took me a few pages to really get into it, but once I figured out what Gaiman was up to I read it straight through without stopping. At close to 6oo pages (588 or something like that?) it's a significant investment in time but worth the effort if you like this kind of thing.

Reminded me of an adult-themed Diana Wynne Jones story, and I was rather smug when I read the Afterword and learned that Gaiman had given the first draft to Wynne Jones to review. Gaiman also said he was inspired by the stories of Harlan Ellison, so if you ever got into Harlan Ellison's seriously twisted (but extremely memorable and often very funny) short stories you'll be pleased to find Gaiman a worthy successor.

Some infrequent but very graphic sex scenes, so heads up on that, but that seems to be par for the course with Gaiman's adult titles and it works in the context of the larger picture.

5 stars. One of Gaiman's best efforts to date, in my opinion.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Journey, Sept. 24 2009
By 
Dave_42 "Dave_42" (Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: American Gods (Paperback)
The Headline Review edition of "American Gods", by Neil Gaiman, is significantly changed from the edition that was published on June 19, 2001 and received so many nominations and won so many awards. This edition was published on September 19th, of 2005, and includes the "Author's Preferred Text", which Gaiman explains in the introduction as being a combination of his original unedited text along with editorial corrections which he made to the trimmed down award winning version. While I haven't read the original edition and thus I am unable to do a comparison, I can easily state that this new edition is an amazing work in and of itself.

The idea that Gods didn't exist without man is not original, but Neil Gaiman takes it to a new level. America is not only a melting pot for people, but for the Gods which they brought with them from all over the world, and those which the Native Americans created. Nor does Gaiman stop there, for as technology and industry have in some respects taken on aspects of religion in American society, those too appear in this mythological epic as the old Gods and new Gods take on adversarial positions as the storm looms throughout most of the book.

The hero of the book is Shadow, a man on the verge of being released from prison after serving his time is released a few days early because his wife has died in a car accident. As a result, the life that Shadow expected to return to is gone, even more so when he finds out that the man who was going to give him a job has also died in the same accident. At the same time, the mysterious Mr. Wednesday keeps turning up and is pursing hiring Shadow for a different type of job. Shadow resists at first, but when it is clear that he has no other life to return to, he decides to take the job. This is just the beginning of the adventure which will take Shadow on a mythological journey to a conflict between the Gods of the old world and the new Gods, i.e. industry, technology, etc., of the new world.

One can hardly do justice to a book of this scope in a short review, but this 635 page novel is a blend of mythology, murder mystery, fantasy adventure, and horror. There are a few extras as well, including an introduction to the "Author's Preferred Edition", an interview with Neil Gaiman, and some reading-group discussion questions, and a short essay titled "How Dare You?" by the author. The extras are nice, but the novel is extraordinary.

There are times when one reads a book which has won awards and they wonder what the people who give out the awards were thinking. This is not one of those times. The nominations include the 2002 World Fantasy Award, the 2002 British Fantasy Award, the 2002 British SF Award, the 2002 International Horror Guild Award, the 2002 Mythopoeic award for adult literature, finishing 3rd on the 2002 SF Site Poll for SF/Fantasy books, being nominated in 2003 and 2004 for the Italia Award for international novels, finishing 2nd both times, and being nominated for the 2004 Phantastik award for foreign novels. Even more impressive is the list of awards won, which include the 2002 Hugo Award, the 2002 Bram Stoker Award, the 2002 Locus Award (for fantasy novel), the 2003 Nebula Award, and the 2003 Geffen Award for fantasy book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars American Gods, Aug. 26 2009
This review is from: American Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
Neil Gaiman has been named as one of the top ten living post-modern writers (the Dictionary of Literary Biography). A prolific creator of comics, drama, poetry, prose and song lyrics, he's also been called the new face of horror fiction. You can even find him active in other media such as blogging, film, journalism, radio and television.

His New York Times best-selling novel, American Gods, was awarded the Bram Stoker, Locus, Hugo, Nebula and SFX awards.

Anansi Boys, closely related to American Gods, has elements of comedy, horror, romance, the supernatural and even humour.

His collection of short fiction, Smoke and Mirrors, dark and unique, has been compared to the works of H. P. Lovecraft, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury and Stephen King (who is, himself, a fan of the author).

Better known for his classic work, The Sandman, a collection of modern, adult comics, Gaiman is a forty-something Englishman who now lives in the U.S.

I've read all three of the books mentioned. My 17 year-old son, a fan of The Sandman, bought them and insisted I devote some time to them. He figured if I was a fan of Stephen King, a horror writer who is arguably the finest story teller around, I just had to love Gaiman. He was right.

I can't think of anyone who has created a mythology quite like Gaiman's. His haunting vision of the landscape of modern Gods makes my skin crawl, yet I find myself unable to leave his work alone. His writing is like a drug that hooks you and leaves you an addict who must have more.

If you're new to the horror genre, I'd recommend adding this author to your reading list. More literary than Stephen King and possibly more difficult to read, Neil Gaiman will reward you for your effort.

Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2009
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American Gods
American Gods by Neil Gaiman (Mass Market Paperback - April 11 2002)
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