BOOK REVIEW: AMERICAN GODS


 

TITLE:  AMERICAN GODS

AUTHOR: Neil Gaiman

BLURB: After three years in prison, Shadow has served his time. But as the days and hours until his release tick away, he can feel a storm brewing.

Two days before his release date, his wife Laura dies in a mysterious car crash, in adulterous circumstances. Dazed, Shadow travels home, only to encounter the bizarre Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a very strange journey across the States, along the way solving the murders which have occurred every winter in one small American town.

But the storm is about to break . . .

The emergence of the new TV phenomenon that is American Gods seduced me into watching the first episode online. I read the novel some years ago and was engrossed not just by the weirdly literate style, plot and characters, but also by the concept of old gods and new gods meeting up in the new world.

Under the circumstances I’d usually reread the novel to refresh my memory before watching the movie or TV series, but in this case I succumbed to “too many books and too little time”. While I sorted things out (my three TV buddies had to be made comfortable under one arm, across my legs and snoring on a cushion right between me and the TV), I tried to recall the details of the novel – and drew a blank. Now you might think that wasn’t a good sign for American Gods but in reality I think it has more to do with me looking backwards at my fiftieth birthday receding into the distant past. I tell you this because that kinda makes this review a bit of a cheat of sorts.

Anyway I had nothing to worry about, right from the opening scenes I had a sense that I’d seen this show before and everything looked familiar. Ah hah! I almost cried but thought better of it in case the TV buddies thought we were in the middle of a home invasion and sprang into yapping action. This isn’t that disappointing feeling when you turn on the movie only to discover you’d seen it already, this was my brain remembering the details of the novel.

To say it all flooded back would be a lie, but over the period of the the first wonderfully weird episode I began to race down the rabbit hole after the next piece of the tale and recalled how unputdownable the novel was at the time.

I can’t pretend my imagination was anything like the collective creativity of the TV writers and director, not to mention Neil Gaiman – and somehow looking at how weird the visuals were at times I feel a little relieved about that – but if the TV series continues to move at the pace of the first episode and look as amazing as it does, I’ll definitely be rereading American Gods just to fill in the missing pieces of narrative.

 

What I Did Like: The fact the TV series more than captured the excitement, weirdness and jaded feel of the novel. All aspects that made the book a great read.
What I Didn’t Like: Strangely enough there were times I felt the novel was over-populated.

 

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