Next up: “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman.
This book was recommended to me. It’s a stand-alone, but there is talk that Gaiman might write a sequel.
In the world of “American Gods”, immigrants to the United States brought more than their families and their hopes to their new home. They brought their gods, as well, their belief in those gods giving them form and life in the New World. But as time passes, people stop believing and gods die, people begin to worship new things and birth new gods. There is a storm brewing, a battle between the old gods and the new. Unknowingly stuck in the middle is the main character, Shadow.
Shadow has only just been released from prison at the start of the book, into a world where his only people– his wife, and his best friend– have just been killed in a car accident. Lacking purpose and direction, he takes a job with the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, little knowing that the man is an incarnation of Odin. Shadow and Odin journey across the US, meeting with gods from a wide array of ancient religions to try to rally them to fight the new gods and strengthen their presence in the US. But there are more plots than Shadow realizes, and his presence in this struggle is not chance.
I wanted to like this book. It deals heavily in mythology, with a lot of clever allusions to various gods– for example, Thoth, Anubis, and Bast run a funeral parlor in Illinois as Mr. Ibis, Mr. Jaquel, and a housecat. It brings in a lot of different gods and mythological figures, too. It’s fun to try to guess who is who (often names are clues; Wednesday comes from Woden, an alternative spelling of Odin).
And yet, this book proved really hard to get into. I think because it is told through the lens of Shadow, who most times doesn’t understand what’s going on. He’s also a mostly passive character in the plot– things happen around him and to him, but he doesn’t ever seem very engaged in them. The disconnect of Shadow to the story translates to a disconnect of the reader (or at least me). I always felt like I was skimming along the edges of the story, and not truly becoming immersed in it. Even the climax of the plot, where Shadow actually (finally) plays an active part, just kind of fizzled.
A good premise, but I wasn’t satisfied. I kept expecting more from the gods, more explanations, more resolutions.