Thursday, January 19, 2012


During my 2008 birthday trip to Puerto Vallarta I read Neil Gaiman's American Gods. It is on the relatively short but prestigious list of acclaimed books which have won both the Nebula and Hugo awards, the most prestigious awards in speculative fiction.

Neil Gaiman is an incredibly accomplished writer, and unfortunately, he knows this very well. I previously reviewed his The Graveyard Book which won not only the Hugo Award (the most prestigious award in science fiction/fantasy) in 2009 but also the Newberry Medal, the most prestigious award in juvenile fiction. I was baffled by the critical acclaim for this book which I found trite and boring.

American Gods is a very interesting book and I am glad that I read it but one can't really say that I enjoyed it like other Hugo-Nebula winners which are instant favorites like Connie Willis' Doomsday Book and Blackout/All-Clear or Frank Herbert's Dune, just to name a few.

The basic premise of American Gods is the idea that gods and other mythical creatures are real because they are believed in. In particular, there are specific American gods which have been created by various segments of the American populace, who brought the spirits and fables of their homelands when they immigrated to America. Gaiman also introduces the idea of new American gods based on different aspects of modern life such as the Internet.

The story follows the main character named Shadow who meets a man called Mr. Wednesday and they travel across America until Mr. Wednesday becomes another casualty in the war between the New Gods and the Old Gods. There are many, many scenes between characters who are representatives or symbols of various Gods. The references are so multifarious and obscure it is doubtful that anyone can recognize them all but one has to admire the creativity of the central conceit although I do think it takes a toll on the readability of the book as well as the integrity of the plot.

Interestingly, HBO has decided that the rich diversity of the world Gaiman has created here is worthy material for a blockbuster new television series in the vein of Game of Thrones. It was announced in Summer 2011 that the network intends to produce six(!) seasons of American Gods starting in 2013 with each season budgeted in the $40 million range. I predict that a well-done television series is probably a more enjoyable way to consume and appreciate Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

Author: Neil Gaiman
Title: American Gods.
Paperback: 624 pages.
Publisher: Harper Perennial.
Date: September 2, 2003.



1 comment:

A Question Of ITIL said...

Great writer!
It seems The Rhyme Maidens is finally going to be published but the price is brutal! The Rhyme Maidens by Neil Gaiman to be published


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