American Gods is another one of those books that has been sitting on my TBR shelf for years. Someone at work recommended it and when I saw it at a used bookstore I picked it up. One of my book clubs selected it as their October book so it was finally time for me to read it.
Shadow had done three years in prison. he was big enough and looked don’t-fuck-with-me enough that his biggest problem was killing time. So he kept himself in shape, and taught himself coin tricks, and thought a lot about how much he loved his wife
The novel follows Shadow, a large imposing guy who was just let out of prison only to find out that his wife Laura just died in a car accident with his best friend… in a rather compromising position. Shadow is soon recruited by an older man who calls himself “Mr. Wednesday” to be his assistant and bodyguard. Mr. Wednesday soon reveals himself to be more than a mere mortal. He is in fact Odin, a god from Norse mythology.
The central concept behind American Gods is that when the immigrants came to America they brought their gods and supernatural creatures with them through the simple power of believing in them. As time went on, the Americans started to forget about these old gods and the gods faded into the background…but… they are still here living amongst us. Their powers are much diminished and their lives are rather lackluster due to the lack of belief in them. The old gods fear that the rise of new gods in America (gods of computers, cars, credit cards) are going to totally obliterate the existence of the old gods. Mr Wednesday with Shadow’s help is trying to get the old gods to unite together against the new gods.
I really enjoyed reading American Gods. Gaiman did a fantastic job executing the concept– he has great characterization and the story had a good mix of humor, adventure, and mythology. The story kept me hooked. I had previously read Gaiman’s short story collection Smoke & Mirrors and Good Omens which he wrote with Pratchett. American Gods had quite a few similarities with Good Omens, which was also about religion and God. I will definitely pick up more of Gaiman’s books in the future, if I ever finish most of the other unread books sitting on my shelf.
American Gods is the first book that I’ve read for the Book Awards II Challenge. For this challenge I need to read 10 award winning books with in a 10 month period. American Gods won the 2002 Hugo Award, the 2002 Nebula Award, and the 2002 Bram Stoker Award.