Friday, October 28, 2011

Review: American Gods

American Gods American Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

TLDR: Very well written, but bland story. I might try another Gaiman book, but I did not really enjoy this one.

I don't think this book and I got off on the right foot. Because I prefer to be surprised by a story, I usually don't do any research beforehand which was definitely the case here. I had heard several people refer to Neil Gaiman as a good author, and somewhere along the line I placed his name in the category of 'science fiction authors' in my head. So lately when I've been feeling this urge to read a good science fiction story, I thought to myself, "Maybe it's time to check out that Neil Gaiman guy." So here on goodreads, I posted a request for recommendations on which of Gaiman's many stories to start with and the most suggestions were for 'American Gods'.

Obviously, the first problem here was my desire for science fiction, which this story is not. This story is placed in present day with strong fantasy elements. These are not necessarily bad things in and of themselves, but this is not what I was in the mood for, hence, the "wrong foot" beginning.

However, Gaiman is definitely a good writer. His prose drew me in at first, and I felt that I should stick it out to see where things went. I was rewarded with some interesting imagery and many surprises, because this plot did not follow along any well-established arcs.

On the other hand, the second problem I struggled with was the nature of the fantasy elements. Here is where the title, 'American Gods' should have clued me in -- the story includes actual gods; deities; beings that are worshiped by humans. My own issues with religion make such a story very difficult for me to enjoy because of the personal drama associated to this topic. Therefore, I was continually looking for other things in the book to entertain me, such as characters or locations. Yet again, this often fell flat for me because I just couldn't relate to the main guy and many of the people described were just confusing or obnoxious to me.

In the end, I would not recommend this book to someone else. However, there was enough talent in the storytelling itself to lend me hope that Gaiman could produce something else I might enjoy. I'll probably come back and try a different story after I'm able to satisfy my science fiction craving.

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