Review: American Gods, Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
This is the first Neil Gaiman book that I've read. He has a good reputation as an author and is highly regarded. I get the feeling that he enjoys sliding between genres and journeying to places where other authors dare not go. That's all good, and it comes across well in American Gods.
The book features the travels of a man called Shadow. He is released from prison only to discover that the world he once knew is no longer the same as he remembered it. Everything that he once depended on has either gone or has been changed beyond all recognition. Without a life to return to, he wonders what his life will become. When a stranger in a bar offers him a job, he is rightly suspicious and assumes that the man is not to be trusted - only he doesn't realise just how strange the man really is until much later.
Shadow wanders across the united states not only in a geographical sense but also travelling through history, ideas and dreams in equal measure. He encounters many different gods that exist as memes in the minds of the people. Memes come and go as time passes and the strength of the gods comes and goes through the ages. Shadow's journey is deep and mystical and takes the reader to places where they might not expect to visit. The overall feeling of the story is a dreamlike journey across ideas and times and places and different ways of life. Gaiman describes the journey in rich detail and the characters are varied and interesting throughout.
In one part of the book a minor character was introduced, and her whole complex life was described from start to finish in a matter of a few pages. It was almost like a summary of a biography for someone who pretty much disappeared again immediately afterwards. It was an unusual technique, and didn't seem entirely relevant at the time, but it was written with such detail and included such interesting and unexpected events that it was enjoyable in itself. There were many such details scattered throughout the story, and through the richness of the individual details, the book's dreamlike background atmosphere became more prominent and believable.
If you are looking for a story with a clear sequence of well defined events that rush from the beginning to end then this book might not be for you, but if you are open to a story that wanders freely amongst characters and ideas, and offers a richly detailed alternative world, then perhaps it is for you. In either case, it is clear that Neil Gaiman is a skilful story teller who has many ideas to share. He is not afraid to wander off the well beaten path, and he has the skill and experience to find his way back onto it, just in time to guide the reader home.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy or horror, or even ghost stories.
You can find this book pretty much everywhere, but here is the Amazon Link: Amazon
[Posted by: Peter James West, author of the science fiction series: Tales of Cinnamon City.]
If you're new to the my books, you'll find that they're a mixture of military science fiction, action, and fantasy.
Tales of Cinnamon City is a science fiction series set in the richly detailed world of Megarothia.
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