Book Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

It is a confusing book for sure. You turn the first 100 pages and realize what you’ve gotten yourself into. It is a book that wants you to go on Wikipedia and research obscure mythological facts. It is not a standalone book. If you think you will finish it in 2 days and gloat over social media, I would suggest you to cease and desist right now.

The story is of one Shadow Moon (Yes, that’s the name of the protagonist) who is living a mundane life with crises of the real world. And then he is employed by one Mr. Wednesday who is actually Odin – the God of War! A War is going on between old and new gods and Odin is recruiting.

Together, they travel across America and meet other gods and demigods. Some unrelated stories run parallel and are never tied together at the end. Where is this war happening? Before you imagine an action packed battlefield with dying gods and bleeding soldiers, I would like to bring to your notice that this book is written to confuse you. Purposefully, there are elements added in the book which make you want to pull out your hair.

The war is in the background which is a place like afterlife but not quite. These gods are not anything but the coagulation of the collective faiths of the masses. And they run on the fuel of prayers and offerings. You may consider them as beings brought to life through the imagination of many. And this imagination is so powerful that it has a world of its own.

So, according to the author, your dreams, the obscure ones, are the manifestation of that imagined world which is somehow real. Gods can die in this world and remain alive in that world. Some few individuals can learn to travel between these two worlds. It is all in your mind. Get my point? No? Exactly.

All this is fine because obscure is good. Complicated is nice. It is great fodder for fiction to go on. But then there is mundane. Oh the mundane! Shadow is instructed to live an ordinary life for a while because, you know, strategic decision. He remains undercover and lives a boring mundane life. And the author takes this opportunity to tell us what Shadow eats for breakfast and how he likes his coffee. It gets boring. Super dull. And then again something supernatural happens.

So, as a reader, this book tries to tear you apart. It places you between the surreal and the ordinary and tries to see if your patience holds. In its 600 pages, it is only the last 100 few pages where the satisfaction starts to pour in. The book isn’t for the weak of patience.

One good thing about the book is that if you try to summarize its plot for a friend, they will probably think you are having a seizure.

4 stars just because the book got me invested.



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