Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is such a different work that I find it really hard to say anything about it, except that I really, really liked the book. Perhaps my inability to say something is because I have not read much of contemporary fantasy. But perhaps it is also because I have been so completely bowled over by this work.
The novel narrates the tale of Shadow who finds himself caught up in an epic war between the old gods and new. And before he can decide which side to take, he has already taken one. Only to discover that there are no sides, really, to the war at all. Only the All Father and his brother win in the war. Everyone else loses. Everyone else dies. But Shadow stops it. Shadow stops the war.
I will not tell you how or why for that may spoil the fun of reading the novel for you, if you ever do, but I will tell you this. American Gods is like wine. It is not a page turner. It lacks all qualities of a best seller. Yet, it has won the Hugo and the Nebula for science fiction, the Bram Stoker for horror and the Locus for fantasy and it is like wine. Wine that you can sip slowly on a lazy evening and gradually get intoxicated.
Like Sandman, American Gods isn’t very plot oriented or pacey at all. It is slow and deliberate. It is like a dream where nothing really is very concrete. But at the same time it reeks of reality. It makes you think about the world around you and what it has become and whether all this is worth it.
It is certainly a must read.