Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

These days, we’re hearing as much about Neil Gaiman as we are Stephen King, right? Especially with Stardust coming out. I’d never given much thought to Mr. Gaiman, though, because he’s attached to fantasy and all.

But then I listened to a certain podcast over at Authors on Tour - Live! and swoon! In the podcast, he shared how he got the idea for American Gods, and I was hooked. Between that and the piece of Anansi Boys he read, I became a fan. And now I’m reading his blog daily (even when WebElf posts), and fangirling more.

Oh, right. This is a review.

Normally I don’t dig reading boy-heavy books. And by boy-heavy, I mean really, really written from the male perspective. I don’t mind listening to ‘em in the car or something (how many Jeff Deaver and Clive Cussler books have we devoured on the drive to SC? lots, that’s how many), but male authors don’t grip me as much as female writers tend to. There are definite exceptions to this rule, though - Chuck Palahniuk, Mark Haddon, Joe Mitchell are some examples. Gaiman writes like a man, and even though interesting stuff was going on in the book and I liked the way he handled idea, I had to force myself through it.

And here’s why: I didn’t know what Shadow wanted, after he went home. I can’t go into detail without giving spoilers, and I know Jack wants to read it, but man, Shadow didn’t really want much, and even though I kinda liked him, I didn’t much care about him. The side characters were more interesting, more real, more alive.

So then, right about the middle of the book, Gaiman hits the nail on the head. Shadow acknowledges he doesn’t want anything, and he doesn’t really care, and that yes, maybe it’s a problem. The very thing that bugged me about the book became the point of the book. It became one of the grand problems that needed resolution. It’s subtle genius.

I finished it last night, just as Jack was coming to bed. He asked if I liked it. I said it was really different than anything I’d ever read. That I’d read more by Gaiman. He said I was sidestepping the question.

But yes, I really did like it. Sign me up for Anansi Boys, too!