Neil Gaiman’s American Gods

I’ve decided to return to my book-reading resolution.  While it’s unlikely that I’ll make my 50 book mark by the end of the year, that should not stop me.  Last night I crossed book #20 off of my list, and that’s a number to brag about.

But I also believe that books are not conquests.  You don’t read a book for the sake of reading it and moving on to the next one.  You read a book because you want to experience the story.  Maybe you want to peek inside a writer’s head for a while, maybe you want to escape what’s in your own mind temporarily.  The reasons for reading a book are just as personal as a writer’s reasons for writing one in the first place.

But that’s for another post.

Last night I finished reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  Despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews of his work, I’d hesitated picking up a book of his until now.  Why?  Maybe I’m just stubborn.  I don’t like people telling me what I should read.  Perhaps it’s an extension of the ideas mentioned above.  My reasons for reading are personal and someone else shouldn’t interfere with it.  Whatever the reason, I’m glad I finally read this one.

Be warned, there may be minor spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the book.  I’ll keep them to a minimum, though.

My first impression upon reading this book and being introduced to all of the godly characters was “I need to do some research!  These gods are interesting.”  And that’s no joke.  I adored the writing style in this book too.  The book had a darker, more serious overtone which contrasted with scenes full of, well, Gods and dwarves and pixies.  Given the tone, I expected more death and bloodshed (and fewer resurrections) in the ending.  The loose ends did get tied up nice and neatly by the end, but the execution was well done.

Toward the middle of the story, Shadow is dumped in a small town called Lakeside presumably to lay low while Mr. Wednesday does much of the dirty work.  (While at first this seems like a cop-out, this subplot proves have more significance later on, so that was interesting.)  The townspeople take an immediate liking to Shadow, this stranger who wandered in on a bus the night before and has no idea how to live in sub-zero temperatures.  The police chief gives him a tour of the town and helps him buy things because he has nothing better to do.  I was left amazed, thinking, “Is this how small towns really operate out in the Midwest?  Maybe I’ve been living in the wrong towns all my life!”  But alas, even the frozen utopia of Lakeside had some dark secrets to it.

This is definitely a candidate for re-reading in the future.  There were quite a few intricate details that were missed by me in the first go through of the story.  I suppose it didn’t help that I took a break halfway through to focus on writing and editing.

The next book I’ll read will be Nadine Ducca’s Serving Time.

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