I finished American Gods about a week ago. Normally, I won’t write a review of a book I’ve been done with more than a day or so because my impressions of it would usually have faded. Anyone who has read my reviews knows that I like to share how a story made me feel and respond, not so much of an expanded plot summary. But with American Gods, my impressions are still fresh.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t actually read this book. I had intended to, as it was a selection for a book group I belong to, but it was very long and I was already over committed and didn’t think I’d get to it. Instead, I signed up for Audible.com. I haven’t had very good luck with audio books before but had heard that the 10th Anniversary edition was fantastic and it was. The full cast production made the characters very real to me. My only disappointment with the audio book – any audio book, really – is that I didn’t know how to spell the names of the gods. There were several that I wanted to look up after hearing about them.
So let’s get on with it, shall we? American Gods starts out by introducing us to Shadow, a soon to be released convict who seems like a nice enough guy. A few days before he’s due to get out, he gets called to the warden’s office and is told that his wife was killed. Sprung a little early, he heads back home to attend the funeral and figure out what to do with the rest of his life and that’s when he meets Mr. Wednesday and his life changes forever. What ensues is a trip around the country, but centered pretty much in the mid-west, gathering information and allies.
To say that American Gods is about Shadow isn’t really accurate. Yes, he’s our main protagonist, but there are many stories in this book, Shadow is really our base. He’s us, the reader, trying to figure out what’s going on and how it all ties together. As several characters in the book point out, there’s a storm a’ comin’ and it takes awhile to figure out just where it’s coming from and why.
Intermixed with the impending war between the ancient gods and the modern gods, there are tales of the early years of America, and several taking place many hundreds and thousands of years before that. This was my first experience with Gaiman’s work. Yeah, I know, where the hell have I been, right? Well, I can guarantee you that this will not be the last. He is a wonderful storyteller and I can’t wait to fall under his spell again.