View Full Version : American Gods by Neil Gaiman

03-04-2006, 10:07:44
Just finished this at the weekend. (the 'authors prefered text version').

It's really good. It's won sci-fi, fantasy and horror awards, but it doesn't comfortably fit into any of those genres. It's kind of a modern myth I guess.


I will have to check out his other stuff now.

03-04-2006, 10:20:19
I like his other stuff much better (and own his other stuff)

American Gods seemed a little too non-unique to me

although it was still good


Scabrous Birdseed
03-04-2006, 10:30:26
I liked it a lot. In fact I think I preferred it to Sandman, but maybe because I read it before.

Scabrous Birdseed
03-04-2006, 10:34:25
Actually my most favouritest Neil Gaiman material are his short stories. Smoke and Mirrors is great.

03-04-2006, 10:40:00
Yeah, Smoke and Mirrors was awesome.

I also love Neverwhere and Stardust. I would like to read Sandman.

Good Omens was also good (although in my opinion an example of neither Neil Gaiman's nor Terry Pratchett's best work).

Jon Miller

21-07-2007, 15:19:15
So many better travelogue books on America by Steinbeck, Twain, Beagle, etc. It's just an arty brit type trying to be smart and not really having insight.

Read the rips (sort all reviews by lowest) on Amazon.

26-07-2007, 12:32:09
Anansi Boys is rather splendid (and funny).

30-07-2007, 14:11:00
Having heard loads of good things about Gaiman's work, and this huge novel in particular, I decided to check out this story of the decline of "old" gods in the face of the "new" gods of technology. The notion that the power of gods is derived from belief in them is a fairly basic one, and forms the underlying framework for "the coming storm", where the old gods in America band together to fight the new ones. The premise here is that centuries of immigrants have brought their native gods to the shores of America, where, we are told, there were no gods. Gaiman uses a few flashbacks to show these gods in action, which are some of the most effective bits of writing in the book. But there are three main conceptual flaws in the premise. The first is that the American mainland was hardly a tabula rasa, there were plenty of Native American deities in place (Raven, Wolf, Turtle, etc.). Secondly, does that mean that there are multiple manifestations of deities-one per geographic location? If the Norse gods die off in America due to dwindling belief, does that mean they live on in Scandinavia? Thirdly, the book totally ignores the monotheistic traditions which dominate modern American belief, which seems like a massive cop-out by Gaiman. Of course, this is a work of fantasy, and one doesn't look for total realism-but these issues undermine the internal logic of the story.
The story's protagonist is the cheesily names Shadow, who we meet right before he is released from prison. Upon his release, he is enlisted by the leader of the "old" gods, Wednesday, as a bodyguard. It's troubling that Shadow never seems that perturbed by Wednesday's creepy knowledge of his life, and it's one of the books central flaws that Shadow takes the most bizarre, X-Filesque events in stride, barely batting an eye. He's such a non-reactive character that it's a real struggle to care about him at all-which is a major problem as he is the center of the story. The two set out on Gaiman's attempt at that most traditional of American genres, the road movie/book, as they attempt to organize a coalition of old gods to do battle with the new ones. So, basically, the whole story is a buildup to this massive battle, which... Well, I won't give it away, but it's likely to disappoint many readers. More problematic is the pace, which is numbingly sedentary. The book drags on and on and on at a steady pace, only to culminate in the aforementioned non-climax.

Along with these issues, readers who know their Norse pantheon will probably spot the book's big reveal well in advance (Shadow's prison buddy, Low Key and his boss Wednesday, bear names decodable by a child with an interest in Norse mythology). This is not to say there aren't portions that are well written and intriguing, but as a whole, the book is an unwieldy mess of ideas and scenes. Gaiman clearly has talent and imagination, but sustaining a narrative of this length appears beyond him at this point.

30-07-2007, 14:13:41
Unlike Gaiman, I'll keep my comments brief. His plot and storyline could have easily been condensed into a 50-page novella. The characters are one-dimensional and hollow. Much of his scenes and descriptions are filler. Gaiman could argue that gee whiz, that's the whole ironic, clever point! Still, it doesn't take 500+ pages to do that. By the way Neil, in case you didn't know, dream sequences are quite cliche these days.

30-07-2007, 14:15:14
This is a perfect example of what's really bad about contemp American fiction. It is written like a comic book and then peppered with words from a BIG thesaurus (not a dinosaur). It could be worse, of course, just go to the chick lit section. Anyone who would read a book recommended by Stephen King has to be a dolt, so I guess I'm my own worst enemy becaue I actually paid for this piece of junk disguised as a novel. It alternates between pompous and pseudo-intellectual, a common trait in modern fiction by the 25-35 yr old set. Asking Stephen King to critique a book is like asking Ronald MacDonald to write a restaurant review. Better to ask him what's hot to invest money in. THAT, he would know. Wait for the cartoon version of this one: it will be only 90 minutes of pain instead of 6 or 7 hours.

30-07-2007, 14:16:14
I found this review to be more entertaining and satisfying than the book itself. I'm serious.

30-07-2007, 14:18:48
I'll keep this short and sweet. This book was one of the most frustrating of the year for me, and I'm not sure why so many people are blown away by this book. The plot is very awkward and very little seems to happen throughout the novel. Why the book is 600+ pages is beyond me as it seems to me it could have been half that and noone would be the wiser (but still equally annoyed). The only thing that I really enjoyed about the novel itself was the concept of all the gods living amongst the regular joes. Great concept, poor novel. It seems to me this is one of those books that is "hip" to have read but in actuality it's a steaming pile of dung.

30-07-2007, 14:22:05
i was excited about this book when it first came out. i'm a big fan of gaiman's graphic novels and i thought that 'american gods' would launch him securely onto the stage of great sci-fi / fantasy authors. the book starts off well. the main characters are evocatively developed and the hints about the upcoming war between the gods are intriguing.
the problem with the book is that it's basically a road trip novel. a trip that gaiman obviously took himelf. because of this, he's too anxious to get to the next location so he can reveal some new facet of americana which, as a brit, he must find incredibly exotic. the effect is a rushed travelogue that eventually takes center stage over the main characters.

this book reads like it was hard to write. it reads like it suffered from endless revisions and endless edits. the result is impressively stiched together - but it's still stitched together.

['are we living in an age where sex and horror are the new gods?' - frankie goes to hollywood, 1984]

06-08-2007, 12:44:49
You can finda ny kind of review on the internet. From negative ones, to fairly balanced but positive ones:


to completely ridiculously over the top positive ones:


06-08-2007, 14:13:28
Yes, but if you're a critical thinker, you can evaluate the quality of the review itself as an insight into whether its judgement is correct. In this case, the people who like AG are ones who just like being middlebrow trendy and the ones who are saying the emperor has no clothes, have good arguments.

Plus, it's really not so much that I'm trying to prove a point. It's that I had the same negative response as the bad reviews and I'm just using them as a lazy method of communication. That way I don't have to think about what it was that didn't work for me, but can still cogently get it accross to you. See. Descriptive. In addition to an argument.

If you give a description of why it worked for you as a work of art, I will listen. Maybe you can even change my opinion. I sorta doubt it though, given my impression that Gaimen is just sorta trendy.