Monday, October 30, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Present day. United States. A young land where the beliefs of old withered amidst the speedy rise of capitalism. A land where time was money and there was no time for antiquity. The old gods grow restless as the new ones of Technology and Media grow powerful and ambitious. It may result in war, and at what cost and with whose lives? At the center is an unlikely protagonist: Shadow.

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Dark Fantasy | Re-Published: June 2011 | Harper Collins | 674 pages

Large, burly, slow to speech, Shadow is not slow of thought. A tangled youth and a complicated life send him down the wrong path, made worse for the loss of the one he loved.

How does one even begin to review such a tome? It is literary, fantasy in a contemporary setting; skating the line between magic and magical prose. This is no slugfest of the gods, but a deep question of who we are, and what we stand for.

Along the way we meet with a medley of characters you half know from legend, scraping by in a land that has forgotten them, their powers diminished. But there is a gathering, a last battle; one where you don’t know if it is for good or ill.

At times Shadow makes the oddest of choices, always furthering the book and intriguing, but not always consistent, but then, here is a man embroiled in turmoil that I can hardly conceive. If his decisions seem unlikely, so is his predicament.

The one failing I felt for the book was an unfulfilled expectation. All along I expected the gods to battle, for magic to play a greater spot in this struggle. It does and it does not. Most of it is behind the scenes, alluded to with finesse and skill. It does not take from the book, only from my expectation. Which, coming from a love of epic fantasy, it is only to be expected that I would harbor desires of epic confrontations with visceral results. Instead the struggle is beautifully portrayed in prose that flirts and holds hands with the literary, but rarely feels overdone. This is a book to enjoy and one to make you think.

While I haven’t seen the new TV series, I hear good things. Have you seen the new show, have you read the book? And what do you think of the adaptation?

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