Wednesday, February 6, 2008

American Gods

Neil Gaiman's American Gods is a unique fantasy presented in modern times. The concept is that all of the gods that throughout history people have brought brought to America exist physically as well as metaphysically. These old gods have slowly been displaced by people worshiping the modern gods of TV, Internet, et al. Things are coming to a head and the unlikely ex-convict character Shadow takes the readers along for the ride.

I was very much looking forward to American Gods after reading all of the hype on it but felt let down. It's not an issue with the writing, which I enjoyed, but the plot and characters. Gaiman certainly shows diversity and creativity, but to what point?

I have put thought into Shadow as a character and come to believe that he was written flatly in order to believably accept all of the hurdles that were thrown at him. But, in the end this left me not very invested in the main character of the story, and feeling like he was a gimmick. All the the supporting characters seemed to share personalities as well: Mr. World/Town/Stone/Wood/etc. were but many instances of one character; the modern gods seemed to have the same haughty and vehement attitude; the old gods the same resistive, ostrich-head-in-the-sand mentality. With the differences in the origination of each god, I expected more diversity in their character as well.

The plot was all over the place which made me feel overwhelmed and wondering what the point was. Every conflict seemed to, ironically, be resolved with a deus ex machina. I guess one could accept this since most of the characters were gods, but I prescribe to the idea that if a gun is fired in act three, it should be on the mantle-piece in act one.

I have yet to complete the book, so my impressions may change (not likely considering how others came away from the book), but I currently feel like I do upon finishing a half-hour sitcom: mildly entertained and regretting the time I wasted. For those who enjoy Gaiman's writing, I would suggest Christopher Moore. I had the same impression from his writing: entertaining, witty and very unique in plot.

Adapted from one of my posts on The Sword and Laser.

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