3 of 5 stars
bookshelves: to-read-2014, fantasy, british, library, buddy-read, mythology-folflore
Read from October 07 to 26, 2014, read count: 1
For roughly four years or more now, I’d heard about how great and dark and beautiful American Gods was, and having read Anansi Boys before, I could attest to the beauty and greatness of Gaiman’s writing. Though it is a visually stunning-sometimes breathtaking– book, I didn’t find it all that dark, and it’s merely an “OK” read.
It began with a strong start, and until the middle section, quite compelling. However, the center tends to drag here and there, with very little action or development. Admittedly, Shadow’s character is pretty well-rounded, and there are several elements that kept me flipping the pages, but aside from that, it’s basically a lot of filler.
Now I realize that this isn’t an action-packed, shoot-em-up, type of story. It’s all about Shadow’s journey, and how he attempts to revitalize life as he knows it. And I love his journey, it’s one of my favorite elements, actually. I think I was just expecting a hell of a lot more substance. It needn’t be action based, just give me something to hold onto, imbue your world with life, man.
Beneath the surface, there seemed to be a lot going on, especially thematically. All throughout, the author explored spirituality, the meaning of life and death, and the sacred, such as religion and “the center of America.” There’s much to say about symbolism here, too.
Nearing the end, I had a sinking feeling that I’d be disappointed in the outcome, and the circumstances surrounding it. While parts of it did improve (view spoiler) my gut feeling proved correct. Not only is the denouement very disappointing, it’s anti-climatic and once again, Gaiman is long-winded. By that point, I’d lost interest and just wanted to be done. I literally had to force myself to finish.
In closing, I thought I’d showcase some of the writing that really resonates with me:
“Time seemed a flexible construct at that moment, an illusion he was imagining as he drove. He found himself becoming painfully aware of birds and animals: he saw the crows on the side of the road, or in the bus’s path, picking at roadkill; flights of birds wheeled across skies in patterns that almost made sense; cats stared at them from front lawns and fence posts.”
Concerning the gods:
“There was an arrogance to the new ones. Shadow could see that. But there was also a fear.
They were afraid that unless they kept pace with a changing world, unless they remade and redrew and rebuilt the world in their image, their time would already be over.”
“Look… this is not a good country for gods. My people figured that out early on. There are creator spirits who found the earth or made it or shit it out, but you think about it: who’s going to worship Coyote?
…So, yeah, my people figured that maybe there’s something at the back of it all, a creator, a great spirit, and so we say thank you to it, because it’s always good to say thank you. But we never built churches. We didn’t need to. The land was the church. The land was the religion. The land was older and wiser than the people who walked on it…”