In his Sandman series of comics, Neil Gaiman took familiar stories from mythology and history and created a dark and mysterious version of our own reality. In American Gods, Gaiman again invited some old friends into our modern world and revealed them to be complex and multi-faceted beings.
The big idea behind this novel is how old European and African myths might be translated into a modern American context. In this world that is not entirely unlike ours, gods and other mythological creatures may have originated as ideas or symbols in the minds of their believers, but faith made them real. Faith is the life-force of gods; without faith, gods fade into oblivion. (This is an idea that Gaiman’s friend Terry Pratchett has dealt with in books such as Small Gods.) A whole host of gods travelled with their believers to America, and found themselves stranded there as Americans gradually adopted the new gods of technology, media and their ilk. The principle narrative of this book describes the final months of an epic showdown between the old and new gods, played out amidst an unsuspecting population of ordinary mortals.
I have read two other novels by Gaiman: Good Omens, written with Pratchett, and Neverwhere, which began as a TV series. While those stories were original and captivating, I thought the writing style was rather mundane and simple. In contrast, American Gods proves that Gaiman is an accomplished prose writer as well as an imaginative world-maker.Powered by Sidelines