Thursday, February 05, 2004

Gods Among Us

I finished reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman last night. Very good book. Somewhat disturbing at times, but darkly fascinating all the way through. It reminds me of Charles De Lint's books in the blending of magic and mythology into the modern world, and that's always something that appeals to me, though his style is very different from De Lint's. The premise is that many different people came to America over the course of many centuries, and brought their gods with them. However, the old gods were gradually forgotten in favor of technology and modernization, and they were abandoned, left on their own to survive in the new land. I think Gaiman does an excellent job of integrating the gods into society (good for the story, that is, not for the gods). They've lost a lot of their power in today's society, but the magic and rituals that they still have left keep things interesting. I think he got the balance of it just right.

It looks like there were some mixed reviews on Amazon, and I agree that there were probably some weak points to the book. It takes frequent interludes back in time which, while related to the overall premise, do not directly affect the actual plot or main characters, so that could sort of kill the momentum for some people. I rather liked that though, once I got used to it, since it seemed to deepen and broaden the world of the novel and pull me into it more. The structure (even just of the main narrative) seemed to be a bit rambling, but somehow it seemed to work out, and it would make sense to me without my knowing exactly why. I think that one of the more important scenes towards the end could have been handled a bit better, but I won't say too much about that, so as not to give anything away. The book as a whole, though, was good enough to rise above the individual problems.

I'm starting to feel like getting into a bit more fiction again. (Unfortunately, I don't want to stop reading any of the non-fiction I've got lined up. Oh well.) This was the first thing I'd read by Neil Gaiman, but I might go looking for Neverwhere or Coraline next. Or maybe some Charles De Lint, since it's been a while since I've read any of his stuff.

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