Jane’s Pick: American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Although, Gaiman’s writing had me from page one – it was the unexpected unfolding of this peculiar tale that had me going back and back again. The basic premise is that a war is coming; a war between the mythologies of old and their modern replacements. The book doesn’t hold itself easily to one genre – part gritty pulp noir, part classic American road trip, part mythological fantasy and part…I don’t know, um…symbolic literary fiction (??). Well, whatever it is categorized as, it is a great read.
The setting is easy to transport into – familiar American heartland seen under dreary ice and rain. The characters engage in such a way that you are never sure who is a “good” guy and who is bad. And the writing is oh so good. It is at once poetic and gritty; real and magical.. American Gods is one of Gaiman’s earlier novels and it has that fresh feel – although polished, it is also a little uninhibited – twisting and turning in its own plot. Most impressive is Gaiman’s knowledge of mythology and his ability to show it off without being superfluous or dragging down the story.
Ultimately, why I recommend this book, though, is that it reads like a classic pop fiction and yet has a lot for the reader to ponder even after the final page is turned.
“There’s never been a true war that wasn’t fought between two sets of people who were certain they were in the right. The really dangerous people believe they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do. And that is what makes them dangerous.”
– Neil Gaiman American Gods