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
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is an extraordinary production of an extraordinary book. Listening was an experience I knew would have to end, but I wished it would not. Shadow, Laura, Wednesday, Sam, and Czernobog were especially memorable, but what impressed me most were the minor characters, each pitch-perfect. The weakest link was perhaps the narrator, but he was fine, just not perhaps what might be hoped. Neil Gaiman's own participation on Coming to America segments and supplementary material was especially welcome. Listen, and perhaps, just a bit, believe.
I really need to start proof reading my Reviews before I post them.
This was my first Neil Gaiman book I read. I then read many others by him... then the Sand Man series and then everything else. Then I bought American Gods and mailed it home to my parents.
It's been about 5 years since I read it. I downloaded it again, because I had a lot of driving to do. Then I listened to it all night at my hotel. And I finished the book before I drove back home a few days later.
It offers a good view of someone trying to understand America.
I have heard other's complain that Shadow is unsympathetic as a protagonist. I kind of liked how he was so numb to how things in his life just went to crap. I liked how his view of his wife was of still love but rational of their situation.
In books and tv and movies, you go through a lot of death scenes and a high body count. But the death scenes that involved Laura... her dispassion was like a fairytale.
I enjoyed the audiobook version of this story, just as much as reading it.
Good writing has ... a balance and a rhythm. You can feel that much better when it's read aloud. --Laura Hillenbrand, author of Unbroken
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.
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.
This is my first Neil Gaiman book. I've avoided him because, like Stephen King, he's a little to dark for me. But I'm out to try new things, and Mr. Gaiman was first on my list.
This book was weird and dark at times, but also fanciful and full of history. I love that the Egyptian Gods of the Underworld are undertakers living in Cairo, Illinois. In fact, that was my second favorite part. It was quite impressive for a few reason. First, Cairo is the most amazing, and scariest place I've ever been. Then, while listening to the book, I kept thinking, Neil Gaiman actually went to Cairo, Illinois while researching places in the U.S. That's impressive because Cairo is like a war zone. Half, or more, of the buildings along the main streets are boarded up and/or falling down, and the side streets look as if they are completely abandoned. And yet, he described it with grace and dignity, the way I've always thought of it.
My most favorite part of the book was the little diatribe delivered by girl Sam. ("I can believe things that are true and things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not.") I feel that it perfectly describes humanity. We are all a bundle of contradictions, but we still muddle through somehow, even though we're all pulling ourselves in so many different directions. To me, it proves that there's no black and white, no right and wrong.
I'm very interested in ancient Gods. They are the forbearers of all modern beliefs. I love the way he gave them all unique and modern personalities. And I love the tiny ball song that Anansi sings!
Also, the narrators are amazing. It was like listening to a play.
I very much enjoyed this book. I'm glad I gave Neil Gaiman a chance.
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.
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