I have a major problem – I have to finish reading every book I start. Why? I just HAVE to know how it ends…and weirdly, skipping to the final chapters of the book to save time feels like cheating to me. Once I commit to a book, I’m in it for the long haul baby, whether I like it or not.
Sometimes, there are books that simply do not live up to their expectations…and of course I keep on reading, HOPING the stories will get better…but they never do.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m ONLY talking about the book overall. I can recognize an excellent writer, even if I don’t like the book. Such was the case with American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.
Gaiman is a superb writer. Superb. His language flows together like poetry, but if he is a poet, then he’s more similar to Edgar Allen Poe than Robert Frost. His language, characters, and story are dark. And gritty and raw and unbelievably real. The story is unique and colorful, his scenic descriptions hauntingly compelling, the characters’ fun and dizzying…except for his lead character, Shadow…the component that ruined the book for me.
Shadow. Is. Boring. There, I said it.
With the exception of some of the “old” gods, Shadow, was by far, the dullest of all the characters in the entire book. Did Gaiman spend so much time making the other characters (Media, Technology, Wednesday, Easter, Laura, etc) exciting that he ran out of ideas for Shadow?
Or am I just missing something?
The story takes places in the present, at the precipice of a big storm. Shadow has just been released from prison early to attend his cheating wife’s funeral. On his way home, he encounters Wednesday, an older gentleman with a glass eye. Wednesday hires Shadow and as soon as Shadow’s business with his late wife is complete, he joins Wednesday on a journey through Middle America.
It soon becomes clear that Wednesday is some kind of god and that he’s rounding up other gods for war. New gods are threatening to eliminate the old gods, and Shadow finds himself in the middle of the fight. His wife also comes back from the dead and follows him around the country, making appearances to save his life.
Maybe this book is over my head?
It DID win the Hugo and Nebula science fiction awards…and like I said, Gaiman’s writing is prolific. I recommend reading American Gods for that mere fact alone. If you are a lover of writing, then Gaiman’s work is something to make time for. Even though I found the book a little slow at times, the story is unique, the characters (most of them) fascinating, and the writing, masterful.
Everything about Neil Gaiman screams prolific author. His picture on his website alone - shaggy salt-and-pepper hair, a well kept beard of the same color, and a scarf wrapped three times around his neck - should be placed next to the word “artist” in the dictionary. His work supports his look. In addition to American Gods, Gaiman has also written The Sandman comic books, Coraline, Stardust, The Graveyard Book, and many others. He has won Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stocker, and English National Book awards, as well as Newbery and Carnegie medals. Gaiman was born and raised in England.