I forgot I hadn’t reviewed this book and I finished it quite a while ago, so I have to go into the reaches of my memory for my thoughts. I hadn’t read much Neil Gaiman, and I had high expectations because of solid recommendations from some fellow readers and I was not disappointed.
American Gods is the telling of the battle between the two factions of gods in america: the original deities that traveled with our ancestors vs the gods of today, the things that we worship such as Internet and Media. They battle for the affections of man, the old guys skating buy with remnants of belief while the gods of today are flush with power and greed. The concept alone is sobering and profound and combined with Gaiman’s gift for rich and thoughtful prose an impressive combination.
“None of this can actually be happening. If it makes you more comfortable, you could simply think of it as a metaphor. Religions are, by definition, metaphors, after all: God is a dream, a hope, a woman, an iconist, a father, a city, a house of many rooms, a watchmaker who left his prize chronometer in the desert, someone who loves you – even, perhaps, against all evidence, a celestial being whose only interest is to make sure your football team, army, business, or marriage thrives, prospers, triumphs over all opposites.”
The unreliable narrator/protagonist is a common literary device, but this book boasts the opposite. The main character, Shadow, is reliable, a rock in a sea of turmoil, but everyone else is full of secrets and deception. When he must be dishonest, he somehow still does so honestly, which makes an interesting contrast and foundation. In fact, he suits his name well as he is really more of an echo of the action of all the other characters and a pawn in the game.
Gaiman’s imagination and creativity simply blew me away in this epic battle and you are compelled to read on, though rooting for a side isn’t easy. Will anyone win? Should anyone win? What does winning even mean? These are the questions you are hoping to have answered and without giving much away, I for one walked away a little unsatisfied and conflicted. But like the subject matter, there are no clear answers and the unease I felt was welcome and to me a sign of a damn good book.