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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman

It took me forever to read American Gods. Weeks. Considering I read most books in one or two evenings, that's saying quite a bit. Part of the reason it took so long is that I put it down during the slow parts, and part of the reason is that it's a long book. Mostly though, I put it down when I needed a break from it, which happened quite a bit.

Why did I need a break? Part of the blame truly is that there were some slow parts, but part of it is that it jumps around quite a bit, telling you about things that happened 10,000 years ago right in the middle of another part of the story.

There are two main premises of the book: 1) the old gods are still around and barely surviving since they don't get much (if any) worship anymore and 2) the places of energy in the US are tourist attractions (as opposed to Europe where Cathedrals and stone circles and such were built in places of energy). I love that Rock City plays a role, as it has to be the epitome of "tourist attraction in a place of energy", and the fact that I had already recognized it as such, made the book just a bit creepier.

The story follows Shadow, who is in prison but due to get out soon when we first meet him. We follow him once he is out of prison, and we watch him navigate through almost every archetype I've ever studied. If I had to guess, I'd say the author has had his own mystical experiences, either that or he's just done a lot of studying of archetypes and how to incorporate them using old and new labels.

I'm not sure if I'll read the next book, Anansi Boys. I certainly won't read it any time soon, but perhaps later, after I've had more time to digest this book.

This is more than an adventure, it's a spiritual odyssey. I think that to fully grasp American Gods, one must read it twice. And I will likely do that at some point, but not right now.

I put this in the Urban Fantasy genre, since the premise of gods like Thor and Odin along with various minor gods and goddesses being real seems to fit.

And I've rated it an 8 of 10. If it weren't for the slow parts it would have easily gotten a 9 of 10. It's a great story, but the slow parts were hard to get through.

American Gods is a masterfully written book, parts of it are pure genius. It's one of those books you could pull hundreds of interesting quotes from, single quotes that you could meditate on for hours. All together, it can be a bit overwhelming, but that doesn't take away from the brilliance of the story and the insights taken from the story. I recommend American Gods to those looking for something to really sink their teeth into. This is not a light read.

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