American Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I realize that I am a little late to the part with American Gods. The book has been out for forever now and it wasn't until the show was created for Starz that I even took an interest in it. I wouldn't call myself a Neil Gaiman fan. In fact, I've never read any of his books but I figured that this was as good a place as any to start.
There are a few things to consider before you chose the audiobook version (as I did) over the print version:
1. Do you want this to be the last book you ever hear while dodging crazed motorists while driving home from work
2. How do you feel about tangential side stories that appear to have no purpose other than world building.
a. Ex: One "God" is mentioned right off the bat in a very graphic sex scene. She is mentioned once later about 3/4 of the way through the book. The point, it seems, is to be able to remark on the health of another god whom she cursed.
3. Do you like detail? Take Dean Koontz's level of detail and double it (triple it?).
4. Do you like reading about nothing? At several points throughout the book the main character of Shadow is stuck in Midwest America living a normal life. You're taken through his daily life in excruciating detail.
5. Do you like characters with no motivation for their actions? You do? You'll love Shadow.
6. Audiobook complaint: Do you want the word "puppy" ruined for you by hearing a grown man say it in a woman's voice?
This is a huge world that Gaiman has created and on the audiobook his says as much. During his writing process he discusses how he basically wrote a bunch of short stories and then kept thinking about how he could potentially tie everything together. He thinks everything came together beautifully. Maybe it's just me. I thought it was just too much. Towards the end, with the "big reveal" as to why Shadow is important to the whole thing; I ended up even more disappointed than I already was.
The writing is of course masterful and I could absolutely see everything as described. The characters are vibrant and layered. Maybe my mistake was trying to do this one as an audiobook. Because hearing things like "he entered the water and was shocked by the wetness" definitely bugged me (seriously though, if you step into water how are you shocked by wetness?).
The one part that I found a lot of joy with was their trip through the House on the Rock in Wisconsin. That was mostly because I've been there myself and it was cool to hear descriptions of the carousel and the music rooms that I loved as a kid.
This one is getting three stars because I loved parts of it and I hated parts of it. It's a long one so unless you really like Gaiman or you really like long books, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it.
Right before I posted my review, I realize that I didn't even get to the point where I wanted to give you a brief description of the plot. That should tell you something right there.
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