Neil Gaiman is one of those writers whose books I can’t seem to be able to put down when I start reading them. He is probably more famous for his graphic novels (Sandman) than for his books, but the books are what attracted me in first place. The few of his graphics novels I’ve skimmed didn’t impress much. But that is probably because I’m not much into comics anyway.
A couple weeks ago, I finished reading his American Gods, a fascinating story of myth and fantasy that kept spellbound from the first page to the last one.
From Gaiman’s I had previously read Stardust, which is a charming fairy tales, guaranteed to please both kids and grown-ups — although, if you are thinking about reading it for your kids, consider yourself warned about the (almost) explicit sex scene at the beginning of the book, which I can’t understand it’s there since nowhere else in the book something like it is repeated.
When I decided to buy another of his books, I had to choose between Neverwhere and American Gods. I decided for the latter, and although I will soon buy the former, I’m almost sure American Gods will prove itself superior, especially considering what I’ve read about both books.
I won’t spoil anybody’s experience of the book, telling to much about it. It’s enough to say that that main character gets himself thrown in the midst of a struggle between the old gods of mankind (Norse, Russian, Irish, Egyptian, and pretty much all of the Old Word panteon) and the new gods of our modern age (media, money, technology, and the mysterious Agency — that exists because everybody thinks so). The battle will happen at the heart of America, but nothing is what it really seems. Gaiman takes the reader to a fascinating exploration of the American culture in the eyes of a European, an exploration that gets even more interesting when read by someone who’s neither American nor European.
To lover of mythology, the book is a must. Internal references and surprised multiply themselves in every page, including incredible word games that are a joy to decode.
Gaiman is also able to give each character a unique voice that nicely complements their profiles. From Shadow, the main character — that gets out of prison to find his wife was killed in a car accident but didn’t stay quite dead, and returns to visit him, beginning a strange relationship that is intrinsically tied with the book’s main plot — to old Wednesday, his mysterious employer that hides secrets in each of his revelation, memorable characters fill every page of the book.
It’s a book to read and read again, just for the pleasure of a well-told yarn.