Author: Neil Gaiman | Publisher: Headline | Pages: 653 | Source: Gifted |Days before his release from prison, Shadow's wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.
Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, American Gods takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You'll be surprised by what and who it finds there.
MY THOUGHTS: If you want an accurate summary of this novel, look no further than the blurb: American Gods really does takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. Endlessly original, unflinchingly gripping and equipped with Gaiman's trademark, storytelling flourish, this novel does not disappoint.
“Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be."
I spent the majority of American Gods like I spend any Gaiman novel: unsure as to whether it's utterly ridiculous or simply sheer genius. Naturally, by the end of the book, I was more inclined towards the latter… although, that's not to say the book isn't splendidly bonkers because, believe me, it is. But the point I'm trying to make here is that Gaiman can manipulate any storyline, no matter how wacky, into a heartrendingly-beautiful and painfully-realistic novel haunted by underlying questions about everyday life.
"We draw our lines around these moments of pain, remain upon our islands, and they cannot hurt us. They are covered with a smooth, safe, nacreous layer to let them slip, pearllike, from our souls without real pain."
In all simplicity, I haven't much to say about this novel that hasn't already been said by others. It's dark and enigmatic, profoundly strange and bears an uncanny resemblance to the real world too.
American Gods is fantastically fantastical, unashamedly honest and brutally hilarious. I can't guarantee you'll fall hopelessly in love with all 653 pages anymore than I can guarantee Neil Gaiman is a sane man… but, I'll tell you this: if you can relate to any single quotation I've included in this review, my recommendation is valid enough. It's a hefty book, and heavy in content, but, despite this, it's worth it. Of course it takes up a huge portion of your time to read, of course it's confusing and downright mad, but it's a Neil Gaiman novel so of course it's worth it.
In One Word?
Sometimes things just are and there's no way you can really justify it. Well, this quotation is as close as I can get to justification: “What I say is, a town isn't a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it's got a bookstore it knows it's not fooling a soul.”