Neil Gaiman isn’t really a new name to me. I watched Caroline, a film based on one of his young adult books, and liked it. His Graveyard book is on my list of books to read someday. I also enjoyed his reading of Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carole” and will probably listen to it this year again. So I always somehow thought of him as an author of children and young adult books. “American Gods” has also been on my list for quite some time now, but I didn’t really remember what it was about. Browsing my list some day I noticed that I could get it for a pretty low price and because it had been made into a show by Amazon recently I decided to get it and started reading it.
And I realized pretty fast that it’s not a book for children. It starts off with explicit language and keeps on using it regularly throughout the whole book but in a manner that fits the the subject and not like it is used in some other books that try to hide the lack of an interesting story by the usage of boisterous language.
“American Gods” is both fun and interesting. It is built on the premise that every time people come to a new place they bring their gods and myths with them. The belief of the people incarnates their gods in the new place who then move around as humans.
Gaiman tells the stories of how several different groups of people reached America and which gods they brought with them. And some of those gods take part in the action of the book. One of the main protagonists is Odin but there are several others besides him. Some of them I even don’t know anything about, but I liked the appearance of Easter who’s enjoying a picknick in a park and eats eggs.
Those old American Gods now have a problem. They’ve got enemies. There are new gods. There are the gods of the internet and of the media and they want to take the place of the old gods and get rid of them.
Odin tries to unite the old gods and to lead them into a battle against the new gods. This book is somewhat like a road movie in the form of a book. It visits various places in the United States and at every stop some nice story unfolds.
The book won several prizes for best science fiction, best fantasy and best horror book. I would place it in the field of contemporary fantasy. But the exact categorization isn’t that important anyways. It’s just a fun book worth reading.
I also watched two episodes of the show based on that book, but wasn’t really captivated by it. But that’s really no wonder. In most cases I prefer the books over the movies and shows based on those books.