Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Book Review: American Gods
With a title like that, one might assume that it's a book about the rich and famous in America. To an extent, that is accurate, but the "gods" are no longer rich, nor famous. Who (or, more accurately, what) are Neil Gaiman referring to? To the literal gods, of course. Those deities of the Norse and Hindu, among others. And there are a lot. Ever wondered what happened to Thor? Well, he shot himself in the '70s.
What drove Thor to kill himself? And what made the deities, who are, supposedly, all-mighty and powerful, become so... human? According to Wednesday, who is, the American version of Odin (more on that later), gods feed on prayer and belief. Now, with modern amenities and entertainment, man no longer believe in the old gods, preferring to spend time devoting the new gods, i.e. the television, media... etc.
And why are these gods called American, when they are Nordic or Hindi in origin? You see, (again, according to Wednesday) gods come to new lands when their believers go there, carrying them in their minds, and creating them there. So, using this theory, we'd have a few hundred Odins running around the world.
Throughout the novel, we see their world through Shadow's eyes, who works for Wednesday. Technically, this is a Dan Brown-ish novel. But it has so many elements in it that you won't be able to tell. Short stories are abound. History lessons, too, actually. There're elements of thriller, horror, humour and God knows what else Gaiman thought was suitable to throw in there.
If you're planning to read this, be forewarned that it's going to be a long read. Like, weeks. The pace is slow but not boring. It's just the right kind of speed for a book this ambitious. Gaiman gives you time to put down the book and process all the information, and then think about it some more before continuing. If you're looking for a Dan Brown book, don't bother with this.
I give this book a 7.5 out of 10
at 4:12 PM