Wednesday, October 19, 2016

American Gods by Neil Gaiman Review

Title: American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: N/A, standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I was at the library a few weeks ago, browsing. I was almost up to the checkout counter when a book caught my eye. The cover was stark, with a dark sky lit with lightning, illuminating a lonely road. But that was only part of what caught my eye. The other part, of course, was the author. Neil Gaiman is one of my very favorite authors, probably in the top ten, and I can't resist anything Neil Gaiman--ever. When I carried it up to the check out desk, my librarian pleasantly surprised me by being excited. He said that one of the characters in the book was the African spider god of stories, Anasi. (I won't spoil the fun by telling which one!) By now, I was even more excited to read it. Plus, now that I think of it, what better book to read to get in the mood for Halloween?

When I opened it, I wasn't sure what to expect--with Neil Gaiman, you can get anything and everything, and that's part of the reason I love his books so much. The book opens with the main character, Shadow, being released from prison. But his freedom is short-lived when he becomes inevitably entangled in a skirmish between the old gods and the new ones. He uncovers deadly secrets, about himself and the world around him, and must make the decision whether to join the bloody tides of the brewing war, or to stop it--even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice.

What can I say? Neil Gaiman is like literary catnip for me. And mix in a ton of mythology, and I'm sold all over again. I loved the concept of this novel--old gods, made for the modern world, and the new ones, birthed of the golden age of technology. Anything with mythology, I'm all over it, but Neil Gaiman did it with such originality and finesse. The pacing was absolutely breakneck--I couldn't put it down, and I finished it in the tub last night, feeling like I'd found and lost some brand new friends. (Luckily, later on, there is the Anasi Boys, but that's another review.)

I really loved the characters, too. The gods were familiar to me, but they were made for the modern world, and I really liked the angle. But my favorite, my absolute favorite, was Shadow. He's probably one of my favorite protagonists to date, especially where Gaiman is concerned. I loved the whole antihero angle, and the fact that he wasn't white. (And I hear they're honoring that in the Starz adaption for next year, too! Yay!) But my favorite thing about Shadow was his innate goodness, even as the world falls apart around him. He doesn't lose his integrity.

Plus, that ending. I loved it so much--I only wish that there was more! This book was so much fun, I'm so happy I read it! The bottom line: A powerful, gripping, hilarious allegory, American Gods took me on a road trip I will never forget--one of my favorite Neil Gaiman books of all time! Next on deck: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo!

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