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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

First notes - i used to have a book blog, but i've decided to stop maintaining it since last November. The whole idea of having a book blog in the first place was to motivate myself to read books, at least 2 or 3 every month, and maybe once in awhile post some literary-related news. Unfortunately, it didn't work out - i'm no bibliobibuli, reading a couple of books a month was tough enough, and then i was mostly unmotivated to write a review about them. But so, i decided if i ever wanted to write any other book review, i'll post them here in my primary personal blog, and leave that book blog with the mothballs.

Anyway, here's a book i just finish today after dinner.

I've been a Gaiman fan for a long time, bought this book on another whim, but kept in a backburner for more than a year. Last week, i decided to start it again, and i pretty much ate it up in a few days.

American Gods is a book about road trip, both physically and spiritually, for the central character Shadow. He gets released early from jail because his wife is killed in a car accident. He then meets a strange old man on the flight back to his hometown, who turns out to be an age-old god, who hires him as a bodyguard / errand boy and together they traverse America.

I won't go much into detail of the story here, but basically Gaiman weaves his magic on the subjects he knows and loves best - mythology, fantasy, and a vivid storytelling laced with dark humour. It is obvious he has put in a lot of research in unearthing some of the gods and demons and folktales of various cultures that emigrated to America long ago, and he has embellished them with his own imagination to fabricate an intricate story for us.

The ending, although not entirely unexpected, can't be faulted much, although there are quite a few layers to it because of the complex storyline.

The book works probably because Gaiman writes as an outsider to America, and maybe thousands of his ancestors had emigrated to the new country and have brought with them their gods which have been forgotten over the years. As he says, America is 'good for the people and bad for the gods'.

I liked the book, maybe a little too long, and some of the 'coming to America' snippets could have been left out, and i may just pick up the sequel 'Anansi Boys'. If i see it on sale, that is.


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