Skip to Content

Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

American Gods

Author: Neil Gaiman
Originally Published: 2001
Courtney’s Edition: 2002
Publisher: Harper Collins

American GodsIn Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, all of the gods who people have ever believed in have a physical presence in every land where they have had believers. (So, for example, there is an Odin in Iceland, but there’s also a different incarnation of Odin in America.)

Shadow, a typically normal man, is released from prison after serving three years. On his way from prison to his wife’s funeral, he meets a man by the name of Wednesday who offers him a job as a bodyguard. After much persuasion, Shadow accepts, only to realize that things are a lot stranger than he had ever known. Working for a god, getting into a bar fight with a leprechaun and his dead wife walking into his hotel room (while she is still very much dead) are only the beginnings of Shadow’s adventures. A storm is coming, and Shadow must help Wednesday rally the older gods to battle the world’s new gods (gods of television and the like) before they become extinct.

Okay, wow. I know there are so many people who love this book, but wow. I don’t think I quite expected this, and it was completely awesome.

I love mythology. It was awesome how Gaiman was able to work all sorts of different mythology into one book – the Norse gods, Egyptian gods, Hindu gods… the only ones I really missed were the Greek/Roman ones. But other than that, I love how Gaiman was able to take these gods, give them all their proper characteristics, and yet still make them fully fleshed out people that didn’t feel like just an unimaginative copy of the myth. Totally awesome.

At the end of the book, I felt like I should’ve seen everything that happened coming. I mean, I was surprised about certain events, but as soon as they happened, and I thought back on everything leading up to them, I could see all sorts of clues pointing to these events and how could I have missed it? Gosh, I’ve missed reading fantasy books where I don’t know how things are going to work out and that surprise me! Certain elements, I knew, but for the most part… wow.

The only drawback I had for this book was that I found it a little slow to get into. But once I got to the half-way point, I lost a couple of nights of sleep just needing to finish it.

The Bottom Line: The more of Neil Gaiman I read, the more impressed I am. This is so different from the other books of his that I’ve read (Coraline, Stardust and a few of the Sandman series), and I’m so impressed that he can manage to write books that never feel the same. Definitely looking forward to reading more.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 8:20 pm July 3, 2009.
Category: Speculative Fiction
Book Author(s):

  • Chris

    I felt the same way as you when I read this one…I knew people loved it, but I was completely blown away when I read it. It’s one of my favorite books ever! Glad you enjoyed it too :)

  • raidergirl3

    I loved the god who worked in the cattle slaughter house. I loved how Gaiman found jobs for the gods that matched their legend.

    I know what you mean about the ending, but isnt’ that a testament to the good writing. It made perfect sense once you read it.

  • Memory

    I had pretty much the same reaction. I liked it right off the bat, but it took me until about halfway through to become truly invested in it. It’s such a wonderful book.

  • Nymeth

    He really surprised me too! And I just LOVED all the different myths. So glad you enjoyed it!

  • Kristina

    I loved this one too! I really like mythology! I agree it was slow to get into though, like there were too many characters thrown at you at one time, it took awhile to get them all straight.