Tuesday, November 3, 2009

CBII: THE PANT TIGHTENING: Book 1 - American Gods - Neil Gaiman

With the exception of Good Omens (which was written with Terry Pratchett) I have never read a book written by Neil Gaiman. I thought Good Omens was a decent read, a little too whimsical for my tastes (which may explain my retcicence to read Pratchett) but good none the less. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I started American Gods since I was expecting something along the same lines. After finishing my first 100% Gaiman book, I can now understand why many Pajibans love him so.

The Book opens with the central character named Shadow. Shadow is in prison serving a six-year sentence for an assualt he commtted on a couple of his compatriots in a robbery. He's due to be paroled after only three years due to good behaviour and he's dedicated to keeping his head low so he can get back to his loving wife and start anew. On the evening he's paroled (even earier than he thought) he meets a strange gentleman by the name of Wednesday, which also happens to be the day of his parole, and Mr. Wednesday offers Shadow a job as his future prospects are looking decidedly grim. Within the next few days, Shadow meets a series of  strange people, who are eccentic to say the least, and learns that he's been recruited as a player in a war of the gods.

Given that the book wieghs in at a decent 592 pages, that is an extremely vague and over simplified description of the book as I really don't want to give away any spoilers, but, Gaiman has crafted an excellent story that is parts mystery, myth, romance, war and redemption. Kind of. I admire the way he presents the protagonist as almost perfectly neutral as Shadow is by no means a good man but neither is he particularly evil. I found that the way Gamain used this balancing act made me very sympathetic to the main characters plight. Also, Gaiman manages to give us enough hints throughout the story to allow us to draw some of our own conclusions but there really is nothing here that is spoon fed to the reader. I thouroughly enjoyed the dark tone of the book and most instances of levity are delivered with a wit that wouldn't be out of place in the Sahara. Not everything turns out for the best for Shadow and the other characters nor should it as that really would've tarnished the book for me. If I had one complaint, it would be that I'm not up to speed enough with my mythology and therefore I think I missed some of the subtility of both the book and the interactions between some of the characters. Even I will admit though, that is a very insignificant issue to take with what is otherwise an excellent book.


  1. Hurrah! You started with one of my all time personal favorites. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

  2. I absolutely loved this book and will happily read it again.
    Glad you enjoyed it as well and thanks for the excellent review, sir!

  3. Aha, a new discovery. Thanks for the review admin, I'll add this to my list!

  4. Awesome review, admin. I've read about half of Good Omens, which I really like, and I read Stardust by Gaiman at some point, which I liked, but was a little disappointed with, I think, because I saw the movie first and adore it. I want to read it again, though, and try to focus more on it, and put the movie out of my mind, even though I love it.

    Anyway, this sounds awesome!

  5. damn fine wordy stuff up there.

  6. Glad you liked it! I was really into mythology when I was a kid, and I think that knowledge did add a lot to my reading experience, but even without that piece, it's still such a great read. If you want more of the witty, move on to Anansi Boys;if you want more of the creepy, read some of his short story collections, particularly Smoke and Mirrors.