Although the occasional bodice busters and dime store murder mystery novels can be fun, they aren’t necessarily the kind of books you’d want to take with you when you travel (unless you’re willing to bring a couple dozen in your carry on because, let’s face it, you’re going to fly through those things cover to cover pretty quickly). You need something surmountable to kill the hours on the long plane ride or provide you with comfort on those nights when you just can’t seem to make a deal with the god of sleep. Perhaps something that will captivate and entrance you, pulling you deep into a tapestry of intricate plot turns and clever characters.
Well look no further my friend, I have found the book for you. Although Neil Gaiman’s American Gods came out almost 11 years ago, it still rings true to the technologically dependent lifestyles we have cocooned ourselves within, weaving mythology of the old and new world into a story that is larger-than-life and imaginative. We follow Shadow, a simple yet insightful man, through the forgotten towns of America, working as a right hand man to the leader of the abandoned gods of yesterday as they plan to take down the mythical entities of today’s world. The book is clever and witty, taking characters from ancient legend and folklore and placing them in modern settings, side by side with gods of cars and casinos. Gaiman story offers a unique insight into the paradigm shift of what humans have chosen to worship. What once was the sun god is now the god of cell phone reception and traffic jams.
This story is captivating right from the start. Although it’s a huge chunk of pages to get through (almost 600), it keeps you enthralled and entertained while providing clever anecdotes about creatures worshiped by all sorts of cultures and time periods. I have yet to find an imagination comparable to that of Neil Gaimain. With stories like Coraline and The Sandman graphic novel series, Gaiman illustrates his insurmountable artistry when it comes to the world of fantasy and the feeble boundaries of what we know to be real and what could be possible. Although American Gods may not be the Norman Rockwell painting of America that we tend to imagine when we are far from home, it still represents the ideals of today’s American collective. Now, drop those concepts into the pot, mix in a dash of fantasy, and a hint of crass humor and you have a story that both satisfies and delights.
I dare you to put it down once you start reading it. Like Shadow, you will find yourself wrapped up in a world that may seem impossible but leaves your hanging on every word.