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Book Review: "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman

It’s old Gods vs. tech Gods in this sci-fi/fantasy blend. I only gave this book three stars because subtlety is lost on me. It took watching the STARZ series American Gods afterward to fully understand the book. The details in the book are elusive, so watching the show filled in some gaps, aiding me in comprehending the mini-plots throughout the novel.

The mini-plots give us a sense of how much different the old Gods' lives are in today’s world, having been forgotten, as opposed to centuries ago when sacrifices were made in their names. They are merely surviving now, maintaining their power by any means necessary. Mr. Wednesday enlists the aid of these long-forgotten Gods in forging a war with the new Gods of the tech age, but some of his old friends have already chosen to align themselves with the opposing team.

There is a subplot that takes place in a small Wisconsin city called Lakeside. Our male protagonist, Shadow, grows to like it there, but all is not what it appears in this quaint town. This subplot was my favorite part of the book. Shadow seems happy there, making friends with the sheriff and some other townsfolk. The reader gets a sense that he wants to put down some roots, but Wednesday tends to spoil Shadow’s contentment every chance he gets; whether it is intentional or not, who knows?

With war imminent throughout the book, the reader begins to wonder whose side to take, if any. And what is Shadow’s role in all this? Why did Wednesday recruit him? All of the audience’s questions are answered by the end of the book—don’t skip the Epilogue—even if it’s done thinly.

If you have read about gods such as Anansi, Bilquis, and Odin in the past, the subtlety may not be lost on you. If it is, though, I recommend watching the STARZ series. I like it better than the book.

If you have both read the book and watched the series on STARZ, which do you prefer—the book or the TV series?

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