Goodreads Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Three star review, originally posted here on December 21, 2018.

Well, here’s another one that everyone else seems to love the hell out of and I just can’t figure out why. I’ll start with the good…

The basic premise is great! It’s creative and original and sets up a world that is full of promise for some vivid storytelling. Getting to know all the Gods is a hoot. What a lovely ensemble of kooky characters! Good stuff! Also, I listened to a full cast audiobook version, and the voice actors were extremely talented- easily the best-narrated audiobook I’ve ever listened to (though admittedly my experience here is minimal).

BUT…

That’s about it. This books draaaaaaaags like crazy for the first, oh, 75% or so. It’s basically the awesome “Getting the team together” montage from every movie, except played in slow motion from 10 minutes to 10 hours. I guess we’re revving up for some giant war, which should be exciting I guess, but it’s just not. Throw in a boring detour to frozen smalltown Wiscosin for no discernible reason just to maximize the slowness.
Then, SPOILER ALERT (but not really?) when we get to the big climactic battle, nothing remotely interesting happens. Then the book ends. But… it doesn’t. It drags on for 4 more long chapters worth of “epilogue.” WHY???

What I didn’t realize when I bought this book was that I’d selected a special extended director’s cut anniversary edition of this book, which was longer than the original. Not having read the original edition, I can only guess that the things editors cut had been cut for a reason. So maybe all these issues with pacing wouldn’t be as big a deal if I’d read the original. That’s the best explanation I can come up with for so many people loving this book.

I will say, though, that even as this book was boring me, I was thinking about how well it would lend itself to a TV adaptation. The world building is perfect to have each episode follow a different God’s story or something like that. So right as I type this I’m watching the show in hopes of it playing better than the original text, and… damn, dude. Here’s another example of wasted potential. I don’t know what the hell the people at Starz were trying to do here.

tl;dr Three stars for a creative concept and good world-building negated by a boring unenticing storyline.


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