American Gods (Review)

July 19, 2012

Book cover for "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman.Title: American Gods

Author: Neil Gaiman

Narrators: Dennis Boutsikaris, Daniel Oreskes, Ron McLarty, Sarah Jones

Publication Year: 2011 (originally published in 2001)

Pages: 560 (audio length: 19 hours 39 minutes)

Genre: Fiction

Source: Purchased audiobook version from Audible.com

From the cover:

First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic—an intellectual and artistic benchmark from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman. Now discover the mystery and magic of American Gods in this tenth anniversary edition. Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text, this commemorative volume is a true celebration of a modern masterpiece by the one, the only, Neil Gaiman.

A storm is coming . . .

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.

Relevant and prescient, American Gods has been lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is, quite simply, an outstanding work of literary imagination that will endure for generations.

Nominated in categories: “Fiction” and “Audiobook of the Year”

I cannot believe that I waited so long to read a Gaiman book.

Seriously.

Back when I finished reading American Gods and posted on Twitter about that fact, I got a barrage of messages from people – both “real life” friends and online acquaintances – who were basically in shock that I’d never done so. And I have to say, I kind of understand why. He is one of those authors. One who’s basically so awesome that everyone assumes you’ve read everything he’s ever written. But somehow, that just hadn’t happened with me yet.

So having said that, let me start out by telling you that listening to this newly-released, full-cast audio version of American Gods was basically the best introduction to Gaiman’s work that anyone could ever ask for. The characters, the story, and the prose itself all came together to create such a vividly awesome masterpiece that no words I can use will give it the credit it’s due. And the narrators – including Gaiman himself – did a fantastic job of bringing all of it to life in the earworm equivalent of brilliant TechniColour.

I don’t want to say anything specific about the plot or characters, because those of you who have read it will already know … and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who still hasn’t read it. But suffice it to say that American Gods is by far my favourite read of the year as of yet. And I don’t see it being surpassed anytime soon.

Rating:

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