American Gods


Author: Neil Gaiman

Having adored Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, and hearing they were making a TV series based on American Gods, which I fully intend to watch when I have a spare moment, I promptly went out and grabbed myself a copy of the book. Yes, I am one of those people. I have to read the book first, and then whinge when the live action version isn’t exactly the same. Well, no, that’s not really true. Most of the time I actually don’t mind if the book and movie/TV show aren't the same because, well they’re different mediums right? I mean look at Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - radio show, book, movie, TV series - and all of them are slightly different. Expecting them to be exactly the same is like comparing ice-cream and mud pies. OK ... not a good analogy. But anyway, let’s focus up here.

Originally published in 2001 (so no complaints about spoilers people – the book is like 17 years old now!) the story centres around a gentle bear of a man named Shadow. Well, gentle until you piss him off, then he may just smash your lights out and crush them into tiny sparkle chips. After getting out of jail and receiving some pretty shitty news, Shadow meets up with an unlikely character named Wednesday who offers him a job as his hired muscle. Though he doesn't spell it out initially, it's soon pretty obvious that Wednesday is an old God on a mission, traversing America petitioning celestial forces to join him in an epic battle that he promises is looming. There's no rhyme or reason really as to why all these other Gods (taken from Norse, Egyptian, Celtic, Hindu and other mythologies) happen be hanging out in America, but apparently it's got something to do with human kind bringing them over through the stories and beliefs of their ancestors.

As Wednesday tracks down each one, he explains they must fight for survival against a new threat - the modern Gods of TV, the Internet and so on, who have formed through human obsession and compulsion and want to see the old guard destroyed. It’s a really promising idea that the book almost delivers on. It just doesn't quite make it, and the story seems rushed in parts that could do with a little more detail. Still, I definitely recommend this as book that will happily whisk you away from the reality of your everyday.

Read this if you like: Gods old and new, Mythology, Neil Gaiman’s other books, you’re about to watch the TV show, you’re looking for a good old-fashioned page-turner that doesn’t requires too much thinking.

Rated: 3 scoops out of a possible 5 flavours.