Published by HarperAudio on September 17, 2013
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Buy on Amazon
First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic, lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Washington Post) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is the story of Shadow—released from prison just days after his wife and best friend are killed in an accident—who gets recruited to be bodyguard, driver, and errand boy for the enigmatic trickster, Mr. Wednesday. So begins Shadow’s dark and strange road trip, one that introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. For, beneath the placid surface of everyday life, a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and Shadow is standing squarely in its path.
An ex-con ends up working for a God in this adult fantasy classic. Let’s review, shall we?
Honesty time – the audio book is the only reason I finished American Gods. The cast recording is phenomenally directed, immersing the reader right into Gaiman’s narrative. If you’re a fan of the story or you’re interested in reading it, I highly recommend purchasing the audio book. You can borrow it from your local public library, but it’s over twenty-hours long. You’ll most likely have to return the audio book prior to finishing it.
This book truly falls in into the “it’s me, not you” review and rating situation. The cast of characters is sprawling and diverse. Shadow is a great main character with intriguing contradictions – complex yet simple, relatable yet obscure, vulnerable yet strong. His relationships with other character, especially Laura and Mr. Wednesday, are interesting. The plot is intricately crafted, moving characters and settings around like a chess match. Religious stories and folklore from cultures across the globe are woven into Shadow’s story.
But while so many aspects of this story work well, it never really held my undivided attention. I didn’t have a strong connection to anyone in the story, which is never a good sign for me. It almost felt like Shadow was an acquaintance of mine – I was half disinterestedly listening, but I could as easily move on to a good song on the radio. It may not have worked for me, but fans of diversity, mythology, and complex writing will most likely enjoy this novel.
tl;dr Great audio book with an intricately plotted story, mythology, and a complex narrator.