American Gods - by Neil Gaiman
I’m rambling quite a bit with my reviews and I’m not churning them out quick enough after I finish books. So I’m starting with a new format here that I hope works for all future reviews.

I’m calling this review structure “Kevin’s Book Bacon” so everything will relate to.... bacon. Yummy.

I read the special “Tenth Anniversary Edition” of this book on the kindle app on my iPad. This version was updated and expanded with the author’s “preferred text”.

“American Gods” is about a man named Shadow who is soon to be released from prison and is eagerly anticipating a reunion with his beloved wife. Except she dies a few days before he’s due to get out. After his release, and on his way back home for her funeral, Shadow meets an eccentric, mysterious old man named Mr. Wednesday. And thus begins a cross-country, world-jumping journey full of mythology, action, danger, Americana.... and Gods.

Gaiman’s writing is fantastic in this book and his research/emphasis on detail is remarkable. The main plot is a developing war between two rival groups of Gods. On one side you have the deities of the old world such as Odin, Loki, Kali (the Indian Goddess), Egyptian Gods and various others from all over the world. On the other side are the new American Gods of internet, computers, news, media, TV, etc. Yes, that part sounds like it could be a little cheesy but Gaiman pulls everything off quite well and nothing feels silly. There are also many subplot layers under this main God war conflict, keeping the book interesting and intriguing throughout. And Shadow is constantly caught up in the middle everything as his character and loyalty are tested to the limits.

I truly appreciate books that obviously took a lot of planning and effort to write. “American Gods” certainly falls in this category. One part I loved is how Gaiman used random American roadside attractions as sources of power for the Gods and Goddesses in the book. The idea is that these are places people always seem to believe in and feel themselves drawn to time after time and this belief is what fuels the lives of all the deities surrounding us. Gaiman actually road-tripped across the USA as he wrote this book and you can feel that authenticity in his words. The internet is full of interviews and articles on this book and Gaiman’s writing process so definitely research it more if this interests you.

My other favorite part is the side stories and flashbacks Gaiman uses to really explain the old world Gods to us and show us how they came to the New World and why they’ve begun to fade away. There’s lots of fascinating, accurately written history that really adds to the mystique of the story. One particularly lovely side story I recall describes an English woman from the countryside who travels to America but continues her belief in the fairies she dreamed of as a child. One of these fairies gently visits her in her old age and takes her away. It’s a really touching, memorable tale. However, I must also mention that some of these back-stories are dark in tone (one has a brief homosexual encounter, one describes a prostitute who sexually devours her tricks) but honestly there’s nothing too terribly graphic or overly offensive for adult readers.

Bacon Fat:
You may want to avoid this one if you are not at all interested in mythology and the old stories of all the ancient Gods who’ve appeared throughout the history of the world. Also, it’s a pretty complicated, quite long book with LOTS of characters so if you can’t dedicate time to read every day, you will get confused. I read for about an hour a day at the gym and that’s how I finished this one. If you read it for 15-20 minutes a couple times a week before you go to bed, you will probably always be confused and not remember how the stories all intertwine with one another.

The Crunch:
Neil Gaiman is a phenomenal writer and I’m so happy to have read this book. I now look forward to getting into more of his work. I fully enjoyed the history, attention to detail and the complex layers in “American Gods”. The glimpses into mythology and Gaiman’s imaginative supernatural creatures were very cool as well.

Recommended for adults only.