It is the concept of gods living in present-day United States that tweaked my curiosity.
Although I’ve been meaning to buy American Gods during my handful of bookstore traipsing, I’ve shrugged it off to my “to buy list” in order to attend to my other new books. Until it caught on me via my co-worker — she dangled it in front of my face and I just had to borrow.
She gladly expected that to happen.
There is a definitive bleakness on how the character, setting and story was presented in American Gods. People are careless, are distant and are over the top nonchalant over things that should’ve induced panic. Perhaps I found this peculiar given that war is coming, or more succinctly supposed by the characters, “A storm is coming.”
There’s never been a true war that wasn’t fought between two sets of people who were certain they were in the right. The really dangerous people believe they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do. And that is what makes them dangerous.
Shadow is a good man that made bad choices. Days leading to his release from prison, he learns that the one thing that can make things right – his wife – is dead. Out in the world and numbed to the core, a job offer arrives in the form of the enigmatic Wednesday. Shadow hesitates and tries to justify that after his long stint behind bars he can’t associate himself with dodgy people that schemes on things that may not be legal.
But accept he did. Soon he finds himself tangled in the unusual. He meets a giant of a leprechaun, his wife comes back to life, a succubus visits him, he goes to a fantastical place, meets a giant spider and more. By the time he realizes nothing has ever been normal after signing up for Wednesday, he’s already into deep turning his back seems impossible.
American Gods is a haunting tale of life, death, resurrection and death once more. It speaks of unwanted hellos, sorrowful goodbyes, inevitability of despair and the bitter truth that we get pain in return as a price for living. It is amusingly bleak and riveting that even the short stories that posed as an interlude showed great capability. Any unsuspecting reader can feast on its visceral sadness but can also delight in its lesson.
Author Neil Gaiman have taken bits and pieces of several myths from all over the world and allowed it into a balanced stew in order for his characters to move around. For people who might have forgotten their mythology, it allows you to revisit and familiarize it in this story. You may find yourself pacing for the narrative to sit but fear not since this is experienced by a lot of American Gods reader. The myriad of events and turns can be confounding at times but as long as you don’t rush in it, the pay off will be very fulfilling.
The novel is a fascinating fusion of several gods and the mild crash-course it offers is both delightful and refreshing. And yes, the story is lush without the unnecessary indulgence.
Written by Coraline and The Graveyard Book British ex-patriot Neil Gaiman
Published by William Morrow
Winner of the Nebula, Hugo, Locus and Bram Stocker Award