Monday, December 31, 2007

American Gods...random thoughts

I truly wish that I possessed talent like that of Nymeth, or Carl, or Chris, when it comes to writing book reviews. I swear every time one of them writes a review, I end up adding that book to my wishlist. Their reviews are beautiful, thoughtful, intriguing. Even Annie, with her short, but informative and well-written reviews, puts me to shame. I just don't seem capable of organizing my thoughts in any way that appears even slightly cohesive. So I've decided to stop stressing about it. I'll just throw my thoughts out there. And will not be the even remotely offended if no one chooses to read them.

The idea of reviewing Neil Gaiman's American Gods was even more intimidating than usual. Why? Because I just loved this book so damn much! You know how every once in a while a book just totally captures you, takes you away, won't let you go even once you've finished reading it. Beyond just your normal fantastic book. The first book that ever did this to me was The Stand by Stephen King, and that book has remained my favorite for nearly 30 years. Had I not been in love with that book for almost 3/4 of my life, I feel certain that American Gods would be my all-time favorite book. Oh yes, it is that good.

I can't really begin to explain what this book is about...believe me, I tried to explain it to Rich. (And though my explanation made next to no sense, I did at least convince him that he really needs to read it.) Anyway, that's okay, because I think nearly everyone else has already read it.

So what was it about this book that made it so phenomenal? First of all, I think that Neil Gaiman has to be the quintessential storyteller. The story was so brilliant, so unique, so enthralling. And he told it with such flare...it was humorous, it was touching, it was clever beyond words. And yes, I admit it, I was caught off guard by an occasional twist or turn.

And I loved all the stories within the story.

And finally, the characters were so authentic. I honestly can't remember the last time I've felt drawn to a character like I was to Shadow. He was so human, so imperfect, and yet so ultimately good. And the gods, sheesh...how could you not be captivated by their human personifications. I must admit that Anansi was my favorite, but each one was so cleverly written.

So, can you tell I liked this one?




And that finishes up the 2nds Reading Challenge (thanks Joy!) and knocks another one off my Book Awards list.

10 comments:

Carl V. said...

That is a great review! It is always best to just put down what is in your head and heart. I'm so glad you read this one. It is a massive book but well worth the effort to read. As I've said before, I encourage you to pick up or check out from the library a copy of Fragile Things (now out in paperback...I sound like a commercial). The final story in the book is the novella, Monarch of the Glen, which follows Shadow months after the events in American Gods. It is a great story. Also...and I think I've said this before as well...if you ever get the urge to experience American Gods again, you can do no wrong by seeing if your library has the unabriged AG on audio. George Guidal's reading is so fantastic. He captures the characters so well. I've listen to it a couple of times and it is amazing.

Debi said...

Carl-

Thanks for the info about the audio version! I actually said to Rich on the night I finished it, "How long do you think one should wait before rereading a book?!!"

And I'm so glad you mentioned which story it is that has Shadow in it. I remember you saying that he appeared again somewhere, but couldn't for the life of me remember in what book/story. And Fragile Things is actually one of the books I got for Christmas. Like to wager on what I'll be reading next?

DesLily said...

It's always a good feeling when you finish a book knowing you will read it again one day! Any book you want to reread means the time you took to read it was "good time"! Can't beat that feeling!

Debi said...

Deslily-

Well said!

Joy said...

Hey! I was just wondering . . . did you like American Gods? *BIG GRIN*

Sorry I couldn't resist. :)

You have made me VERY INTRIGUED and I do NOT like fantasy AND chunksters. That's a pretty good feat, Debi!

Kailana said...

I really need to try this book again. I couldn't get into it when I picked it up last year. So many books! Are you going to read Anansi Boys now? I need to get Fragile Things too. I ordered it and it just never made it to me... stupid mail!

I know what you mean about reviews, by the way! I suck at them.

Nymeth said...

Debi, I wish you realized that your reviews are actually good. You get your enthusiasm for the book in question across perfectly, and in a way that's contagious.

I know just how you feel about this one. Like you, I loved the stories within the story. I think some of them are among Neil's very best short stories. And like Carl said, you have to read The Monarch of the Glen! It's set in the highlands of Scotland, which would be reason enough for me to love it, and it's just beautiful.

I will also echo Kailana and point you towards Anansi Boys. If your favourite of the gods was Anansi, you'll love it!

alisonwonderland said...

earlier this week i was thinking that i really ought to read something by Neil Gaiman in 2008. (yes, i've never read anything he's written!) i was considering American Gods - and you convinced me that it definitely needs to be on my to-read list. thanks!

Mo said...

"American Gods" was my 1st Gaiman book, which I read in 2003, and it had exactly that same effect on me; it remains one of my all-time favorite books to this day! Glad to see someone else got the same experience from it....

Great review.

Chris said...

You gave me chills reading this Debi because it reminded me exactly of how I felt reading this book for the first time. It's one of those books that you read and you just know that you're not going to experience too many like that in your life. I was just blown away by his story telling. Can't wait to hear what you think of Monarch of the Glen and Anansi Boys as I know you'll read those eventually :p And I do the same thing as you did with Rich...I try to explain American Gods to people and just kind of ramble until I get it across that they just have to read it, lol...I usually end up buying people a copy of it.

And like Carl and Nymeth said, you write perfect reviews! You say what you feel, it's the same as any of us do. Hell, you've made me go out and buy books ;)