‘American Gods’ is mind bender with twists, turns

Novel is read sure to keep you on edge of your seat



One of the more tame scenes of “American Gods” features Shadow, Mr. Wednesday, a talking bison and the World Tree from Norse mythology.

CARSON HOLLAND, Evergreen columnist

I will be the first one to admit I haven’t been the best about reading new books during the pandemic. I tend to get trapped watching TikToks or binging something on Netflix.

With things opening up and school back in session, I made it my three-month early New Year’s resolution to begin reading again. The first book I picked up as the school year started, “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman, did not disappoint.

I grew up reading the Percy Jackson books that fostered a childhood obsession with mythology and Greek gods, which I am sure didn’t impress my parents. Even now, the idea of Camp Half-Blood lives rent-free in my mind and I continue to love reading about mythology.

When recommending this book to one of my friends earlier this week, I was easily able to describe it as an R-rated Percy Jackson book. Filled with mythology and heroes from many different cultures, you’ll once more be taken on a ride with gods and monsters.

Throughout the book, Gaiman delves into the ideas of belief and modern advancement, exploring how they might interact with various gods from the past. The rise of technology and progress around the modern world gives rise to “New Gods,”  such as a god of globalization or television.

This makes the “Older Gods,” the ones you may recognize from mythology or some world religions, nervous as they lose believers to the forces of progress and technology.

Gaiman explores various belief systems and how interacting with American culture has changed the very makeup of the gods themselves. I was happily surprised to see some aspects of Welsh, Algonquin and Ghanian beliefs and mythology represented, among others.

The book follows the story of an ex-convict, Shadow, who is hired as an assistant and bodyguard to the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. The pair travel across the U.S., recruiting the “Old Gods” in an attempt to fight against the “New Gods,” a cast of characters that is difficult not to get attached to.

The book is chock-full of symbolism, metaphors and deeper meaning. On multiple occasions, I reread a paragraph and pulled a completely different meaning out of it — Not to mention some of the absolutely wild scenes the book describes, such as a cosmic carousel ride or a talking bison with eyes on fire.

Overall, the book was enjoyable. Gaiman does an admirable job of creating character development while also moving the plot along quickly. There was more than one night this last week I read way past the time I usually go to bed to know what happened next.

The book isn’t perfect and I wished it spent a little bit more time on certain themes and characters, but what it did have was entertaining.

In 2017, the book was developed into a TV show with the same name. Of the two, I certainly prefer the book, as Gaiman has a way of describing scenes the TV show doesn’t do justice to.

If you are looking for a read that will challenge you a little bit, entertain you a lot and get you back into the habit of reading, then “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman is for you!