Saturday, April 29, 2017

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Shadow sits in prison waiting on the day he can go back home to his wife and his life.  His time is about up but he is released early when his wife and his best friend are killed in a car accident.  Broken and disbelieving, he returns home only to find out that they have betrayed him and had been having an affair.  With the only thing that sustained him gone, Shadow hits the road, adrift and wounded.

He isn't sure where he will go but soon he meets a man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday.  Mr. Wednesday is a con man, a rogue, and he seems to know much more about Shadow and his life that anyone should.  He offers Shadow a job as his helper, chauffeur, bodyguard, whatever he needs someone to do.  Shadow sees no reason not to accept  and the two men hit the road.

They go on a massive road trip, visiting all Mr. Wednesday's friends.  As the trip progresses, it becomes apparent that Mr. Wednesday and his friends aren't normal people.  In fact, they aren't people at all, but the old gods from every culture.  Mr. Wednesday is their leader and he is rounding them up to battle.  A war is brewing with the new gods of technology and government intervention, a war for the soul of America.

Neil Gaiman wrote American Gods ten years ago and it became an instant classic.  It won the Hugo and Nebula awards that year and catapulted Gaiman into the stratosphere of the science fiction/fantasy genre.  It is about to be released as a series on Starz and expected to be a huge hit.  It is the kind of book that once one is finished, one wonders why they hadn't already read it.  The themes of mythology, good against evil and what is wrong with modern culture strike a note that creates a receptive audience.  It is, simply, a masterpiece of fantasy and is recommended not only for fantasy/science fiction readers but for every reader.

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