22 August 2009


It's difficult to describe Neil Gaiman's American Gods (the first of two books completed during a brief vacation in New York's Adirondack Mountain, a locale very conducive to reading about myths and folklore, for whatever reason) without giving anything away. As I prepared to write this review, I found myself thinking, "Well, that happens so early in the book...who can it hurt if I mention it?" The Answer, I'm afraid, is that I'm Not Sure. Each mild surprise in American Gods builds on those that come before it, so that even if you're able to guess how everything will pan out in the end (as I was, sort of?), it still comes as something of a shock to actually read it. That being said, the more you know about myths and folklore--Scandinavian, Egyptian, South Asian and American Indian in particular, although I can't even begin to guess at where the allusions I missed come from--the more you'll get out of this book. And that being said, even if you know next to nothing about any of that, I still think you'll at least get a pretty good time out of these almost-600 pages. I certainly did, so much so that one of the main characters' identities strongly influenced the choice of my next book (you can see it here already: Kevin Crossley-Holland's The Norse Myths). Just think about, say, that mythology class you might've taken in high school, but add of dash of something like, I don't know, Mad Max into the mix for good measure, and a layer of mystery on top of that. And all easy to read, very easy to read, and very entertaining. It's good stuff, really A+ stuff, and I'd recommend it to anyone both intelligent and unpretentious.

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