Luke Rolfes, “BOOK REVIEW: Gaiman blends fantasy with reality in ‘American Gods’.”,Iowa State Daily, 10-18-2001.
Welcome to a crash course in modern-day fantasy. The instructor is Neil Gaiman. The subject matter is “American Gods.” In this novel the lines that separate reality and fantasy become distorted, blur and altogether disappear.
There are no rules. There are no limitations. Every preconception about possible or impossible can be discarded.
In this world, limits of reality go only as far as the instructor’ s imagination. In the case of Gaiman, the imagination is almost boundless.
The contents of the story are fantastical and almost absurd at times, but are surprisingly believable. The story begins at the end of a three-year prison sentence for a man named Shadow.
The man has done his time and anxiously awaits his release so he can return home to his wife. Days before his release, he receives news that his wife has died in a horrible car accident.
Shadow, not sure where to turn, is sought after by a strange man named Mr. Wednesday. Unsteadily, he accepts a job from this unusual man and begins to travel with him across America.
Before he realizes it, Shadow is caught in the company of people who are not exactly human. In fact, he is in the company of gods.
The gods that Shadow has unwittingly gotten wrapped up with are the actual gods and creatures of myth. These gods exist because people believe they exist.
It is a dangerous time for gods, as a great war is brewing between the gods of old and the gods of new.
Gaiman uses mythology and lore from around the world to bring these creatures of myth into real life. He borrows legends from many different cultures including Celtic, Norse and Egyptian mythology.
“American Gods” is adventurous, supernatural, funny and scary. The storyline is creative, imaginative and complex. Gaiman uses an unapologetic writing style that is familiar and even poetic at times. It is almost as if he weaves this intricate story out of fantasy, myth and reality. Each page has the reader guessing what the next one turned will hold.
Gaiman is originally from England, but he recently moved to the United States. He has developed a strong following for his work in the DC comic’s Vertigo series “Sandman.”
Recently, he began writing novels and his newest venture, “American Gods,” is receiving praise from many of the big names in fantasy/science fiction. Gaiman, acclaimed for his expertise in storytelling and imagination, has the potential to be a very successful force in the world of writing.
All in all, this book is hard to put down and well worth the read. Anyone who is willing to test the limits of reality should read “American Gods.”