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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

American Gods by Niel Gaiman

Title: American Gods
Niel Gaiman (English, 1960- )
Originally published: 2001

Page count: 586
Dates read: 4/6/24-4/17/24; 5/1/24-5/15/24
2024 book goal progress: 6 out of 24

Read my other book reviews for my 2024 goals HERE.

Description on back of book:
Shadow is a man with a past. But now he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life with his wife and stay out of trouble. Until he learns that she's been killed in a terrible accident. Flying home for the funeral, a strange man in the seat next to him introduces himself. The man calls himself Wednesday and he knows more about Shadow than is possible. He warns Shadow that a big storm is coming and from that moment on, nothing will ever be the same.

First paragraph:
"Shadow had done three years in prison. He was big enough and looked don't-fuck-with-me enough that his biggest problem was killing time. So he kept himself in shape, and taught himself coin tricks, and thought a lot about how much he loved his wife."

Favorite quotes:
"There's never been a true war that wasn't fought between two sets of people who were certain they were in the right. The really dangerous people believe that they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do. And that is what makes them dangerous."

"Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives."

"The house smelled musty and damp, and a little sweet, as if it were haunted by the ghosts of long-dead cookies."

(More at the end of the blog!)

CAWPILE Rating: Overall - 8.6/10 - ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
Characters      - 10
Atmosphere   - 9
Writing Style - 9
Plot                - 8
Intrigue          - 8
Logic             - 7
Enjoyment     - 9
What is a CAWPILE Rating?

Wow. This is the best book I've read in a long time. I love all the mythology tied to it, though I wish it went a little more in-depth about the new 'gods.' I had to look up some of the mythological figures, but I enjoyed doing so. I didn't figure out the main plot twist, which made perfect sense once it was revealed. I was definitely suspicious that things weren't lining up correctly, but I didn't guess what it was. I liked that the story kept me on the edge of my seat and was able to surprise me. I did guess another twist at the very end, but that's because I was looking up the old mythologies and it kind of gave it away. The book had a good ending and tied up all the loose ends. I highly recommend it. I'm definitely interested in reading the second book and the other two related novellas.

Now I'm off to read another book... but since a review should be more about the author of the book than about the writer of the blog, I will let Niel Gaiman have the last words:

"Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end."

"None of this can actually be happening. If it makes you more comfortable, you can simply think of it as a metaphor. Religions are, by definition, metaphors, after all: God is a dream, a hope, a woman, an ironist, a father, a city, a house of many rooms, a watchmaker who left his prize chronometer in the desert, someone who loves you - even, perhaps, against all evidence, a celestial being whose only interest is to make sure your football team, army, business, or marriage thrives, prospers, and triumphs over all opposition. Religions are places to stand and look and act, vantage points from which to view the world. So none of this is happening. Such things could not occur. Never a word of it is literally true."

"Native Americans figured that maybe there's something at the back of it all, a creator, a great spirit, and so we say thank you to it, because it's always good to say thank you. But we never built churches. We didn't need to. The land was the church. The land was the religion. The land was older and wiser than the people who walked on it. It gave us salmon and corn and buffalo... and we were the children of the land, just like the porcupine and the skunk and the blue jay."

"A trail of lightning speared across the clouds, and Shadow wondered if that was the thunderbird returning to its high crags, or just an atmospheric discharge, or whether the two ideas were, on some level, the same thing. And of course they were. That was the point, after all."

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