American Gods

Giovanna Clairval

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What I like in American Gods, is what I like in Gaiman: his style, culture and intelligence.

I did enjoy reading AG, but I agree with those who said: is the ending satisfying?

About the scope…
I haven’t read the last one, but I find N. G.’s shorter, less imposing books wonderful. Coraline is a little marvel. Maybe, in AG, the scope and the questions are too demanding for one single novel. Like Moorcock, Gaiman will probably explore his favourite theme in many works.

and the structure
Gaiman acknowledges Zelazny’s influence, and says he believes Roger would have liked American Gods, but I –forever an admirer of RZ– spotted a few shortcomings that the immense author of Lord of Light had as well: frequent digressions, wonderful stories but (sometimes) loose plots, a little show-off in a few too-witty dialogues.
All things that I love and forgive, because of the style, culture and intelligence.
 

Princess Ivy

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i've probably read ng before, but nothing has stuck. i picked up a copy of american gods from the library and enjoyed every page. for me the ending? (any of them) wasn't a problem. in fact a bit of a relief from the 'hero's save the day, old vs new' theme so prevelant in much fantasy work. although shadow's parentage was a little lame (why can't the 'hero' ever just be ordinary), it didn't spoil the story.
for me, most of the little stories married within the context of the bigger picture, with the notable exception of the kobold. that seemed like a bit of a cop out - although i did still enjoy the book.
 

rai

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Didn't like it at all. It seemed aimless - like he was thinking, "how am I going to end this?". I thought, once hearing the premise of some of the gods representing American culture, that there would be some clever representations, but he didn't come up with anything much.
I agree.

I am 300 pages in and would throw it in a fire today except I'm a bit curious to see if it will turn out to be any good. So far the deeper I get into it the less I care for it.

Coin tricks? why am I wasting my time on this book ???
 

rai

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Did anyone find a lot of coincidences with 'The Damnation Game' which (I think) pre-dates AG?

--

I wanted to amend my prior post about me not liking AG.

I don't hate it but I think it's too self important. I think it's too 'cute' style where NG thinks he's soo cool with his snappy wit or his overly long descriptions such as the friggin Purple 4-runner (etc..) like I hope the purple 4-runner is important for as long as he goes on about it. I mean (IMO) skip the whole bit and make the book 4 pages shorter if it's not important to the story (which I think it isn't so far).

Also, I don't think it's horrible, but just when it's got so much positive reviews, I was expecting something to love. If it's 'Huck Finn-esque' I think I'd rather re-read 'Huck Finn', if it's a bit like Amber then maybe I'd rather re-read that (etc..)

But that's just my opinion. I'm glad most other people love it.
 
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rai

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So finally finished AG. It did get better towards the end but (IMO) really nothing great to me. It turned into "the Sixth Sense' for no reason also.

I can't seem to understand why people love this book so. The main character was was dull as if he was just tagging along bending to whoever came along to give him direction.

The 'new' gods were dumb (was there a VCR god who's is no longer around since we are watching DVDs now)?

I'd give it 2.5 (out of 5).
 

Patrick Mahon

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Having just finished 'American Gods' yesterday, I thought I'd post to say that I really enjoyed it. I can see where rai is coming from with his criticism of the story, but my view is that Gaiman does an interesting thing in making Shadow both an everyman and a basically decent bloke caught up in stuff way beyond his control. I also rather liked the way that he used Shadow's coin tricks to underpin the issue of what's real, and what's an illusion.

More than anything though, I found it a hugely entertaining read. :)
 

MeriPie

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I really liked it. It doesn't really have a point, or a message, or a plot as such. I just liked the whimsy, the flow. I read it across a week of serious airport-time and plane journeys, and its fluidness of location really fits with that, you really feel like a part of the book if you read it whilst travelling. I loved all the characters, particularly Shadow, and hoping that things would turn out right for him really motivated me to keep reading. He's a strange one, because he's so big and powerful and steady and smart, but he lets all these things happen to him, goes with the flow. I was really hoping I'd understand him by the end.

SPOILER DOWN HERE


I really fell in love with him when Laura told him that he wasn't really alive, that she wouldn't know he was there, that she doesn't really know what he is, and he's so destroyed by that that he does something completely terrifying just because an alive person would do it, and if he can die, then it proves he was alive to start with...


But yeah. I liked the ideas and the flow and the whimsy and the symbolism, even if the plot and the ending were a bit random and trailed off.
 

Judderman

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What a fantastic book. Lots of great and interesting characters, and the combination of American and other historical references to mythology such as the Norse/Germanic gods goes down really well. There is a lot of twist and turns to keep you page turning, I'm not surprised it won prestigious awards. There is a surprising amount of criticism in this thread, clearly it is not to everyone's tastes.
Anansi boys is very good too though I prefer AG.
 

Rodders

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I've been reading about Neil Gaimen for some time now but have not read anything of his. I picked up American Gods this afternoon on a 3 for 2 offer at Waterstones. Very much looking forward to this.
 

Rodders

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I started this today and my first impressions are good. Mr. Gaiment writes in a nice, light style. I already know i'm going to enjoy this, but i'm looking forward to seeing how much.
 

Rodders

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I finished this yesterday. What a beautiful book. Kind of reminded my of Clive Barker's Weaveworld (one of my favourite novels) in both style and content.

I've been putting off reading Gaiman's work for some time now (although i have read some of his Sandman Graphic Novels), as i wasn't too sure whether i'd enjoy them as i'm not a fantasy reader. I'm very glad that i've finally got round to it. I like the look of Neverwhere and Anansi Boys so i think i'll pick them both up on my next book haul.
 

Brian G Turner

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Almost finished reading this - the "author's preferred text" version - and finding it to be quite awful as a novel. Just about to wrap up via the epilogue.

It started well enough - it was like reading a novelisation of something that would fit in his Sandman arc.

However, it soon became quite tedious reading.

The protagonist has absolutely no emotional depth to him - despite that his wife died cheating on him, we get I think 4 sentences through the entire book where Gaiman tells us that Shadow feels bad about it. And it's all telling and not showing. There's no real emotional conflict.

Shadow is also entirely passive and doesn't do anything for most of the book. Instead, he simply serves as a vehicle for other people to tell the reader short stories.

He gets into trouble a couple of times, and then is rescued by deus ex machina.

The ideas are interesting, but they never seem fleshed out to any significance, and they are driven by the same stock gods Gaiman favoured in Sandman, not least Odin, Loki, and Bast.

The whole story also seems full of holes and contradictions that aren't intended. For example, we are told that the gods may die, but will be replaced by something like them if that happens (a la Sandman). Yet though we hear about gods dying, they don't actually appear to be replaced.

Also, some of the text looks like it's never seen an editor.

Neil Gaiman is obviously a very good short-story writer, and probably also very good at writing screenplays. But I felt American Gods simply attempts to psychobabble the reader into thinking there's a profound message somewhere, in order to excuse its complete failure as a novel.

Just personal opinion. :)
 

Mouse

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That's a shame, Brian, I really enjoyed American Gods. There was one bit that almost made me cry! (Involving Laura).
 

Brian G Turner

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I was really surprised, myself.

I guess that's one reason why I didn't look for American Gods after enjoying Sandman, because a part of me was concerned that Neil Gaiman might not do the leap to novel writing so smoothly.

The irony is, if I'd read it then, I might have actually enjoyed it a lot more.

Perhaps I'm becoming a classical snob about what constitutes a novel - at the moment, I just can't accept that a protagonist with no personality, no emotional turmoil, and who wanders passively through a novel, is worth reading.

The short story sections were the stand out moments to myself - but these were characters with personality, emotional turmoil, and who were actively motivated. The question I'm left is why Shadow was none of these things.

The trouble is, this seems to be a motif across a lot of Gaiman's works.
 

Hex

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I quite like the calm narrator who's more of an observer than a participant. This is a structure that works in Bleak House, for example.

I read Anansi Boys first and really enjoyed it. I liked Neverwhere too. I'll have to go back and read American Gods again, but my memory of it is very positive. I like Gaiman a lot -- I like his sense of humour and the way he twists things.

Have you seen Coraline? That was a bit like The Graveyard Book (which I also really enjoyed).
 
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