Review: American Gods

American Gods American Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Note: This review was originally written in the early 2000s and published for a no longer running website: AudiobookCafe. 

This review is focused on both the book and audiobook. Poor Shadow can’t catch a break. After doing three years in prison, he is released early to find that his wife died in a car accident. He also discovered that his wife wasn’t entirely faithful to him during his time in prison. The car accident also took his best friend’s life; the same friend who had lined up a job for Shadow upon release and the same friend, Shadow discovers was sleeping with his wife. In a matter of days, Shadow has lost his love, his best friend, his job, and pretty much all hope. That is until he meets a god who seeks Shadow’s employment as his personal liaison.

Neil Gaiman weaves an amazing tale of gods and goddesses, new and old who are battling each other to gain a higher peg on the metaphorical totem pole of god-worshipping. Their struggle has led them to America, where the new gods (gods of the Internet, television, radio, etc) seek to overthrow and destroy the old gods. The old gods have an ace up their sleeve and unbeknownst to Shadow, he is the ace.

As assistant to a deity, Shadow meets a whole pantheon of gods and goddesses. Some he knows and recognizes, while others just leave him (and sometimes the readers) baffled. Now, he must help his boss and other gods to maintain the balance and civility that has existed among the deities for thousands of years but is now being tested by the new gang of gods and goddesses who seek to eliminate all others.

Of course, George Guidall delivers a spectacular performance that only adds to this great book. With plenty of gods and goddesses from various countries and areas of the world, he aptly adds the proper accent and attitude to each of his characters. His tone for Shadow works well. While a strong and fairly intelligent man, Shadow is not your stereotypical ex-con and Guidall does well to remind listeners that there is a gentle soul to this hero.

“American Gods,” is another intriguing and entertaining tale from Gaiman, who has mastered the art of creating a mythology and universe cohabitating and coexisting with our world. He blends these two worlds together with such subtlety that one can often feel a certain truth to it. Unlike many speculative fiction writers who draw on the same material for new books, Gaiman relies on a strong style and great storytelling.

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