American Gods by Neil Gaiman
(Author's preferred edition)
What I liked
✅Interesting, unique concept taking place in a well-described American landscape, explored over a long road trip.
✅I enjoyed the mixture of grounded scenes and weird hallucinatory scenes.
✅The meandering nature of the novel, while offputting for some, actually worked for me UNTIL the climax when all the locations explored and people Shadow met seemed to have little to no impact on the climax.
🤷♀️This being my first Gaiman book, I found his writing style is perfectly functional, but somewhat bland (maybe I was just expecting something different?)
❌Protagonist, Shadow, had little personality beyond being the strong-and-silent-type, tall, and all-too-pure-hearted.
🤷♀️The old gods provided most of the most engaging and interesting characters (ie. Wednesday, Mad Sweeney, Hinzelmann, the Chicago family, etc), however, the characterisation of the new gods left much to be desired.
Structure and plot
There were two competing structures/plots in the book. The first being the mystery of the missing children in Lakeside and the second being stopping the war between the old and new gods. Honestly, the Lakeside plot was much more interesting, with better characters. Wisconsin felt alive on the page and all the other locations felt dull.
The worst part
The so-called climax sees Shadow (aka Mr Zero-Charisma) stop the war between the gods by simply talking to them and telling them his daddy did a mean and bad thing. Then, all the gods decide to go home...seriously?😂
Not only was this "climax" completely rushed and seemingly shoved in, Shadow then returns to Lakeside to unmask the way more interesting villain, Hinzelmann.
What I would have changed
I would have tied in the Lakeside plot and scene more in with the fight between the old and new gods, potentially even having the final battle take place in Lakeside. There was just so much jumping back and forth, particular in the climax of the novel, there the reader doesn't want to invest in a new location, they just want the conclusion to the story.
In one word