First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic, an intellectual and artistic benchmark from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman. Now, discover the mystery and magic of American Gods in this 10th anniversary edition. Newly updated and expanded with the author's preferred text, this commemorative volume is a true celebration of a modern masterpiece by the one, the only, Neil Gaiman.
A storm is coming....
Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life. But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow's best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.
Life as Wednesday's bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. It is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own.
Along the way, Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life, a storm is brewing - an epic war for the very soul of America - and that he is standing squarely in its path.
Relevant and prescient, American Gods has been lauded for its brilliant synthesis of "mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose" (Washington Post Book World) and as a modern phantasmagoria that "distills the essence of America" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is, quite simply, an outstanding work of literary imagination that will endure for generations.
©2011 Neil Gaiman (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers
"This full-cast performance of the tenth anniversary edition of Neil Gaiman's American Gods (think director's cut) is one of the most mesmerizing audio experiences ever.... Ron McLarty plays a randy, crusty old Odin disguised as a white-collar con man to perfection. Daniel Oreskes's Shadow, the hero who doesn't know quite what he is, is masterful. Oliver Wyman, who did Mad Sweeney the Leprechaun, is a genius. Hats in the air for the whole cast, a flawless production, and a tour de force of a tale." (AudioFile)
I am new to Neil Gaiman's work. I once tried to read a Sandman comic and felt utterly lost, so I gave up trying. His recent work on Doctor Who and my membership on Audible led me to pick this audio book. I'm not a big fan of full cast productions either. I like the idea of a single person reading the book... but after reading the criticism and researching the different versions of the book for myself, I decided to give this one a try.
It was fantastic.
The voice of Shadow is perfect... as is that of Mr. Wednesday. It really helps the book come alive. If I had read it or listened to a single person voicing it, I may have gotten sick of the tangents that Gaiman follows, but since I had the numerous voices as sign posts on the journey, it really did help. They do a great job of setting the tone.
This book is like a dream you don't want to wake up from. It makes so much sense, yet if you were to try to explain it to someone, it wouldn't. If you expect something from it, you may be disappointed, but if you just let it take you on a journey and let your mind wander with it, you will enjoy every minute of it. Neil Gaiman knows how to get you to feel for his characters by making them a part of the familiar. This really is something I could see myself dreaming.
I hope HBO does make it into a TV show, as is the buzz.
This isn't a review about the story American Gods; others will do that. What I felt important to review here was the superb production presented by this very talented group of narrators. The characterization- depth, realism and building of, and ability to relate to -in American Gods is very well done, but the performance of the narrators brings them further, adding an even more complex and integrated layer of emotion and connection.
The main narrator is easy to listen to and warm to the tale- I felt the narrator was telling me a story of his experience rather than a recitation of another's work.
And of Neil Gaiman's own short passages, sprinkled thru-ought: an excellent lift from the main story, giving each break an ethereal yet distinctive separation from the main story.
I really loved this story. My kids have been telling me for years to read it, and I finally got this edition to listen to. I can't imagine any part of it I'd hope to miss, and am not sure what the parts were in this edition that weren't in the previously released version, but again, I can't imagine I'd want anything left out.
I'm usually not a fan of "cast" performances on audiobooks. I like a single storyteller. However, this was really an outstanding performance - they did a truly great job.
Audible Fan, Amazon Customer, Gardener, Quilter, Liberal and Activist. I'll read about anything!
Gaiman is one of those authors for who I simply buy the hardbound when it comes out and I read and re-read these over the years. I was thrilled to find this revised production version of it on Audible.com. I may be prejudiced but I found this audio book immaculately performed and amongst the top of the books I've listened to.
I really enjoyed the variety of narrators-with a novel this involved, a multi cast interpretation is the only way to do it justice.Yes, it's long and quite complex, especially if you've not read it previously but it's well worth the time and any effort. If you're a fan of fantasy fiction, American gods should fascinate you.
A caveat: It may take a while to get into..because it is long and as a bit convoluted, you might not be grabbed in the first chapter..Gaiman develops his novels slowly-they creep up on you. I hope readers who are unfamiliar with his work don't give up right away..this book is a synopsis of past gods and goddesses from our ancestors and their plight in the world of technology.
For me, this is a book thats worth reading, and re reading again-I know I'll be listening again in a couple of years.
Genre fiction, trashy to literary--mystery, action, sci fi, fantasy, and, yes, even romance. Also history. Listener reviews help a lot!
I haven't finished listening to this yet, but wanted to weigh in about the narration. If you are one of George Guidall's many fans, by all means get his production. But when I first searched this book on Audible and found only Guidall's version, I chose not to get it because have never cared for his voice or performances. That is not meant as a criticism of this much-honored narrator, it is strictly personal taste and preference.
I like the use of different readers and in general think all four of these do a good job. This is an *extremely* dense and confusing book, and hearing different voices, at least for me, creates welcome breaks.
Whether this production will wind up being worth the heavy going is still up for debate with me. Gaiman's Preface to this anniversary edition characterizes it as "big, odd, and meandering." It's certainly all of those. He also acknowledges that some of his fans "really hate it." But there is a lot of interesting stuff in the book, especially for people who enjoy the off-center, the surreal--and the ineffable.
Neil Gaiman's whimsical plot, rich narrative, and exquisite character development make what would otherwise be a pedestrian tale into a keeper. Gaiman says that readers tend to like the book or hate it, and I can see why. I really disliked the premise and the story to be quite honest, but I really liked Gaiman's writing style.
Philosophically the story is interesting - American culture contains a wonderful, bewildering patois of colliding cultural traditions, and at the same time the leading creator of culture in the world. Gaiman's story elucidates this cultural dialectic through a metaphor of a supernatural struggle between the many old gods brought to America in the consciousness of its immigrants and the new gods who had their beginning here.
I'm not sure I would want to change this story. Gaiman says in his author's foreword that the genre of the story is hard to place, and I agree. I'd say it belongs somewhere between fantasy and horror, neither of which genres are my ordinary cup of tea, but I enjoyed the richness and rhythm of his prose and the development of the characters.
The narrators are cast beautifully - their voice characterizations help to flesh out the already well developed characters.
This book stands on its own - a follow up isn't needed, nor do I think it would be even possible. That said, I could easily envision a podcasted panel discussion of the philosophical and cultural metaphors in American Gods and how they relate to actual cultural dynamics.
Avid reader/listener of just about anything.
American Gods has rested firmly in my all time top-5 list of favorite books since I first read it 10 years ago. With this in mind, I admit a certain amount of trepidation going into this book based on some of the early reviews of the full-cast performance. All doubts were cast aside the moment I heard the voice of Wednesday as it seemed to sound just as I had imagined. All in all I felt the performance was quite good and certainly did not detract from the story.
As for the story itself, Gaiman's imagination has never let me down and this is no exception. Just like when I read it, I simply could not stop listening, hanging on Shadow's every word and finishing the book in less than a week.
The bottom line here is simply that it's a fantastic book in any format and for my money a must-read. Normally the genre's Neil Gaiman contributes to are not my traditional taste, but his use of language combined with his awesome imagination make for quite a force that has yet to let me down. If you haven't already, you need to try a Gaiman book at least once and experience it for yourself.
Mom, engineer, and cook
This review is focussed on the audio aspects only; the story is epic and widely regarded as Gaiman's best work. So let's just take that part as read and move on:
I have both versions of American Gods as audiobook, and I must admit approached this version with trepidation. If you have listened to the BBC radio Hobbit or Hitchhikers Guide or Gaiman's own "Plays for Voices", you know there is a pretty stark division between excellent audiobook and excellent audio theatre. Multiple voices in a reading verge *close* to performance, but then have all the "he said" and "she admitted"s that you'd think would break up the flow. Which it did. But only for about the first 10 minutes and then it just WORKS. The voices are dead-on perfect, you'll find things in the story you didn't find your first time (two times... five times....) through. I highly recommend this version, even if you already have the other one! Definitely worth the listen.
The coda at the end for the cut scene is also fun.
American Gods was not my favorite Neil Gaiman novel and it was far from my favorite audiobook. In my opinion, the story meandered a bit too far and the dialogue grew tiresome. American Gods struggled with identity: was it a murder/mystery, a romance, a redemption story or a con? I don't think the book was particularly good in any one category and it definitely struggled to be all. If you're looking for an introductory Neil Gaiman story, skip this one and try the Graveyard Book.
As much as I like the subjects of Neil Gaiman's books, I can't help but feeling like I'm reading someone else's fan fiction - which I have never found enjoyable, if not slightly awkward. Many concepts felt overly derivative and I wish there were more original content because I know Gaiman must be a very creative person.
I do not claim to be a good judge of voice-acting, but I found it difficult to enjoy this audiobook's cast. While a few actors managed to bring some life to the text, most lacked any enthusiasm or conversely "hammed up" the roles.
I would not describe American Gods as a page-turner. The wayward style of narrative was wearisome to follow and the large cast of characters was difficult to decipher, let alone care about when they encountered trials. For example, in the case of Mad Sweeny, I found myself shouting at the audiobook, "Just say he's a leprechaun already!" Instead the character takes 12 pages to tell us about his buckle shoes, drinking habits and penchant for coins. The whole book is leading to a large battle of the gods, which *SPOILER ALERT* never happens! There is a whole lot of build up without a pay-off. We never get to see god versus god, immortal vs immortal battling to see who will survive! Clearly this book was not for me and I am among the minority, but that's my opinion, so take it for what it is worth.
Likes to listen while doing chores; likes to write reviews while he should be doing chores.
It's going to be tough going back to single narrator audiobooks after this one. Bravo to those involved with making this full cast production. Just very well done.
The story for this book was good and engaging. It had an interesting set of characters that were well told and well voiced. The contrast of god-driven mystical events taking place on drab parts of the American landscape was dramatic and even a little unnerving. It gave you this feeling that you might walk into a public restroom in a rest stop to find two guys discussing whether or not to have another biblical flood.
One major detraction the book could have done without is Gaiman's pretext of throwing sunlight onto a piece of the American soul. It strikes me as a bit shallow. It is perhaps a necessary condition that an author of foreign origin would focus on the things that make Americans different. In this case, Gaiman uses midwestern roadside attractions as settings because of the immanent power of those sites. This focus on the sideshows causes him to miss the real attraction I think. I wouldn't try to make a profound statement about the English by making a survey of Morris dances, just as the world's largest ball of twine tells you little about America.
It's too bad that he used those settings as an overlay (and I use "overlay" instead of "backdrop" intentionally) for this story, because it cheapens it a bit. I actually quite admired his treatment of American heroes and legends. The interplay of immigrant and native gods was relevant and insightful.
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