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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, December 18, 2005

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman. New York: William Morrow, 2001. ISBN: 0-380-97365-0

This was a second time through American Gods for me, although I couldn't remember for sure if I had read it before or not when I began. But reading the book definitely provided a sense of deja vu, and eventually I realized I had read it before. And while I might not have chosen to read it again if I had known in advance, it was worth the second trip.

The story has a fascinating premise, one that while not unique to Gaiman, is nevertheless given his own unique and intriguing treatment here. The idea is that the old gods, the mythic characters from the “old world,” have incarnations here in the “new world” of North America too. Only not many people worship them anymore, and with no genuine worshipers, the gods are beginning to weaken and fade away. Tom Robbins plays with a similar theme in his classic Jitterbug Perfume, a book that should be on most modern reading lists. Perhaps this one belongs there too, time will tell.

Much of the book seems consumed by preparations for an imminent war between the old gods and the new, the Wodins, Thors, Eostres and their kin against the incarnations of the Internet, the modern city, and the like. But not all is as it seems, as we ultimately discover.

I would recommend this tale for all readers of modern fiction, but especially for fans of modern fantasy, those who enjoy fantasy with a darker twist. Try it, you'll be hooked in no time! As an aside, the book won the Hugo award for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy novel in 2002, the scifi equivalent to winning an Oscar.

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