Saturday, May 26, 2007

Neil Gaiman, American Gods

Well, since I turned in grades, I've been mostly hiking, drinking, and reading a lot of not-too-serious novels. I picked up Neil Gaiman's American Gods because (1) it was on sale at Barnes and Noble, (2) it had a glowing endorsement by Michael Chabon on the cover, and (3) the cover said it had won a Nebula award.

But this book is not good.

I realize that writing is hard, and I have a certain amount of respect for anyone who can write and publish a novel. And one doesn't want to be captious. But I wouldn't spend my money or time on this one if I were you. I made it about 120 pages in, but just couldn't go any farther. Weak characters, weak plot, weak writing.

I say give this one a pass.


Blogger Punning Pundit said...

I normally respect your opinion, sir-- but you're insane. It is my honest opinion that American Gods is among the best books in the English Language. I will go so far as to state that it's strength rests on being and having each quality you believe it does not...

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I'll take a middle ground between the two above opinions - I didn't think American Gods was a bad book by any means, but I wasn't hugely impressed because a lot of it seemed to be a retread of the themes from Gaiman's work on Sandman. Not a bad paperback purchase, but that's about it.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


Does it get better after around page 100?

And remember: my literary IQ is about 64.5... When I talk about novels, I'm basically just spewing my impressions to see what people have to say.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I first started American Gods, I wasn't able to get interested in it very much, so I laid it aside in favor of other novels. Some time later, I picked it up again and really got into in and ended up quite enjoying it. Second time was the charm, I guess.

I agree with Chris that, for the Sandman fans, it can seem a bit redundant. (For that matter, didn't Shadow and Wednesday run into Delirium and Barnabas when they were in San Francisco visiting Easter?)

I disagree, though, that it was weak in the points you outlined. In fact, I adore how Gaiman alluded early on to Wednesday's two-man grifts and Shadow's misdirection (with his coin tricks) when it is eventually revealed that... well, I don't want to spoil the ending. Did you at least spot Loki? I'm still kicking myself for not picking up on that right away.

And if you ever want some really bad books, try the Left Behind series. Blech. Worst books ever.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Punning Pundit said...

It got good on, like, page 2. If, by page 100, you still don't enjoy it, you might as well give up. Its sad, but alas... ;)

6:09 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

I was going to say you're insane, but Andrew already said it. Guess it takes all kinds.

I'd agree that in some ways there are similar themes in Sandman and American Gods, but that seems primarily because both pull so much from folklore and mythology.

I'm a huge fan of folk tales and mythology (I have two shelves full of books on the subject), and as such I found very little redundancy between Sandman and American Gods, but that could be because I am fascinated by the (sometimes small) differences between the folklore and mythologies of different cultures. (for example, different cultures have "Cinderella" stories, however the story is slightly different in each, and I think those differences are fascinating.)

Of course, that's probably why I love Neil Gaiman's work so much--since it focuses upon a subject that already fascinates me.

Michelle K

9:08 AM  

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