My goal in life is to be half as amazing as Neil Gaiman. I love everything he does. Gaiman could, quite frankly, set me on fire and I’d still give it five stars and add it to my Goodreads favourites shelf. American Gods lived up to my expectations and more. There is no way to explain the overwhelmingly beautiful atmosphere Gaiman creates, I can only explain it as a strange mixture of wanderlust and deja vu, the modern America he creates juxtaposes the vibes of the Old Gods so perfectly it’s almost overwhelming. It is all too easy to get lost in this book. The book follows Shadow, an ex-con who is offered a job by the mysterious Mr Wednesday after being released from prison. And what follows is an adventure of epic proportions.
I usually pride myself in being well versed in my myths and folklore, but even I was blown away by the sheer amount of research and effort put into creating and personifying the gods. Some of the gods were hinted at with sly, punny names reminiscent of Pratchett, and others were explained outright. It was easy to follow, but also intrigued me enough to go and do my own little bits of research throughout the book. The sneaky education on folklore doesn’t overshadow the characters though, Gaiman has the ability to strike a perfect balance between beautiful description and diverse and fully fleshed out characters.
Alongside the main plot, there were small snippets of fictional characters moving to America and bringing their old gods with them to the new world. These small narratives serve to break up the larger story and expand on the world that Gaiman has created. The stories read like fables, history, and even gossip, so I didn’t even resent the breaks in Shadow’s tales.
There are a few parts in my edition where I felt that the plot was moving along a little slowly, but I did read the author’s preferred text which has about 12,000 extra words that were cut down before the initial publication. In hindsight I’m not sure there was anything that really could be cut out, I’m probably going to spend the rest of my life trying to compare the two and find every single word that was lost. But if you’ve not read either edition, I would recommend picking it up immediately, it didn’t win all those awards for nothing folks, it’s a must read for pretty much everyone!