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Review: American Gods

American GodsAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is probably my second favorite book by Neil Gaiman. It’s a really good book, with only a few nitpicks that prevent it from being perfect.

The story is about a man called Shadow who gets out of prison only to find his wife has died. He then meets a man named Mr. Wednesday (people who know a bit about Norse mythology should be able to guess who this guy is) who recruits him to join in a war of old gods vs. new modern "gods".

It’s a neat story that had some good twists I didn’t see coming (there’s one memorable one about 2/3 of the way through the book where after you find the twist, you find that the hint for it was so obvious that you can’t IMAGINE how you missed it, though pretty much everyone I know who HAS read the book didn’t pick up on it until the Reveal).

There’s a lot going on in the book and, I have to say, some of my favorite parts of the book were the scenes at the end of each chapter which didn’t follow Shadow, but showed what some of the other gods or minor characters are doing in the present, or showed events in the past which explains how the gods came to America. It gives a good sense that the world is alive and most of those chapters are fascinating. In a lot of cases, I found what was going on in those side stories more interesting than what Shadow was doing at the time in the main plot. There are a lot of subplots which are interesting and even though there is a lot going on, it’s never overly confusing or contradictory. In fact, I found all the subplots pretty easy to remember and keep track of throughout, which is something I sometimes have trouble with in other books (usually epic fantasies).

There are a few nitpicks I have with the book, mostly that 2/3 of the way through the plot kinda drags for a short amount of time before events kick off the climax. It wasn’t a long enough lull that it made me feel bored or annoyed enough to put down the book, but I did kind of notice it slow down a bit before the ending really starts to kick in. Also, while many of the gods and other characters were facinating, at times Shadow seemed kinda…bland to me at first. I ended up warming up to him a lot by the end of the book, but for the first half of the book, there are periods of time where he doesn’t seem to have much of a personality.

But those are minor complaints. I’ve reread this book several times and I still really enjoy it. It’s a fantastic book and the setting is fascinating. It’s probably my personal favorite urban fantasy book (second only to another Neil Gaiman story, the Graveyard Book). If you’ve never read a Neil Gaiman book, this is a really good one to start at, especially if you love mythology or urban fantasy.

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