Friday, July 08, 2011

Review: _American Gods_ by Neil Gaiman

Shadow waits to get out of prison and be with his wife in a new life. Shortly before his release, he receives tragic news and goes home. On the airplane home he meets a mysterious man named Mr. Wednesday who draws him into a battle of the gods. Neil Gaiman’s beginning of his Fantasy novel American Gods draws readers into a mythic Contemporary Fantasy with a dark edge. The book has a lot to offer readers with its well developed characters, realistic setting and, intricate plot and theme.

Mr. Gaiman is a master in developing characters. The characters of this book are well developed and realistic. It begins with the main character Shadow in prison. He waited for his release, just wanting to go home to have a normal life with his wife. Events and encounters with gods change him as the book proceeds. Wednesday-Odin is a tricky, crusty old man trying to save his fellow gods from oblivion. Other gods are quirky or dangerous from various mythology backgrounds. The new gods such as the one of the Internet and Media fit their roles completely. Their lives are sad because they are forgotten, desperate to survive at any cost.

Set in the United States of today, the realistic setting gives the story an immediate feeling of suspense. Mr. Gaiman moves the story all over America to familiar places and rare strange ones. Traveling with Mr. Wednesday, Shadow visits new places touched by magic or strangeness. For example, Lakeside is a small town of the North Woods. It is a perfect place with no crime, but with a dark side. One child disappears every year to mar the perfection. The author’s descriptions of the setting are vivid and memorable, making it very familiar for readers and bringing the plot to the forefront.

Finally, the intricate plot and mythic themes gives the book a deeper meaning that touches something in ourselves. This is the tale of a broken mortal human caught up in a war of god Ãs. Shadow just wants his life back. He is at the mercy of Odin, a brutal desperate god. His sojourn throughout the land changes him. Mr. Gaiman blends the heroic myth with elements of horror expertly to produce a memorable affecting novel. The author makes the reader see a darker side to America which most people would not consider possible.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman is a brilliant mythic Contemporary Fantasy. Well developed characters, a realistic setting and, intricate plot and mythic theme makes this a memorable book that is hard to put down. The vivid descriptions and horror stay with you for a long time. This book is not so much read as experienced. It is no wonder. American Gods has won awards. It has won the 2001 Bram Stoker Award for Horror and the 2001 Locus Award for Best Fantasy novel. It is nominated for the 2002 Mythopoeic Award and others too. Do not miss this complex novel. It will leave you thinking about it for some time.

ALERT: American Gods has been picked up to be made into a TV series in the future. It will be interesting to see.

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