In true Neil Gaiman style, American Gods refuses to be bound by conventions and romps along at a spectacular pace. Many fans claim it is his greatest work, and their argument is difficult to deny.
After three years in prison, Shadow has done his time. But as the days, then the hours, then the seconds until his release tick away, he can feel a storm building. Two days before he gets out, his wife Laura dies in a mysterious car crash, in apparently adulterous circumstances. Dazed, Shadow travels home, only to encounter the bizarre Mr. Wednesday, claiming to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god, and the king of America.
Together they embark on a very strange journey across the States, along the way solving the murders which have occurred every winter in one small American town. But they are being pursued by someone with whom Shadow must make his peace.... Disturbing, gripping, and profoundly strange, Neil Gaiman's epic new novel sees him on the road to finding the soul of America.
©2001 Neil Gaiman (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers
"Gaiman is a treasure house of story and we are lucky to have him." (Stephen King)
With the impending release of Neil Gaiman's new audiobook - 'The Ocean at the End of the Lane' (18th June 2013) - I thought it was worth quickly reviewing the best of his previous novels. Although Anansi Boys is great (especially once you get used to Lenny Henry doing the narration), American Gods remains his greatest novelistic and audiobook achievement.
The story starts with Shadow getting out of prison a day early due to tragic circumstances. What follows is an odyssey into the heartland of America and the Gods who live there. While the book itself is a great read, the audio version really brings the text to life - Shadow's dry sense of humour; Wednesday's mischievousness. It's so good I'm actually envious of those people who have not yet had the pleasure of downloading it - if you're one of these people, download it NOW! You won't regret it.
On a similar fantasy-related / magical-reality theme, I would also heartedly recommend the Peter Grant novels by Ben Aaronovitch - the everyday tell of your average bobby becoming the last apprentice of English magic. It is simply one of the best narrated books on Audible. Warning: be careful where you listen, however, you will undoubtedly get strange looks due to your laughing.
Read this many years ago and have just finished it on audiobook - it's still as brilliant as I remember and actually better because Neil Gaiman has put stuff back into it. Very well read too - it feels as though a great deal of care and attention was paid to make sure the detail is spot on. I think this is one of the best audiobooks I've listened to.
I dance around and sing a song and know that I can do no wrong.
I am a Neil Gaiman fan, so I'd pretty much bought into the writing style and the nature of the story up front. However, I think this is the book in which he gets everything right. It's a big book, but it's full of story, so it manages to pretty much sprint the marathon. There wasn't a time where I felt it lacked pace, or had to sit through setup text.
The characters are flawed, but completely engaging. I found myself so interested in some of the gods that I would pause the story to do a little research.
The narration is excellent and Neil's additions only add to tale.
I last listened to a Neil Gaiman children's book which I loved and happened to mention to my daughter. She recommended this. It is definitely not a children's book, there are fantastic images which will stay in my head forever. Somehow the unacceptable and unusual become the norm. The book raised questions I'd never asked before.
Great experience. I think it did for me what the Hobbit did at age 10 and Titus Groan in my 20s. It is not How Green Was My Valley.
Good but not great. The Ocean at the End of Lane is a superior narrative and much more cohesive and engaging
The narrative is very rambling - and the interludes (which I imagine were cut from the first edition book) break up the already baggy narrative. When the threads come together it is satisfying enough
Given how beautifully Neil Gaiman writes, I was disappointed that this is too indulgent and therefore only patchily gripping.
Absolutely brilliantly read - comes across like a play. The best narration of an audio book that I have heard
Magical in places but overall impact greatly reduced by the indulgent bagginess
I highly recommend the Ocean at the End of Lane and this is good but just too long
I can't help but feel more should've happened in this book or more explanation. The characters are great and the world they live in but I don't know. It just.... lacked. Its a shame cause the audio is amazing. Different actors for every voice and each great. I hope this becomes the benchmark for audiobooks. It really is a great performance but as I said the story just isn't all there for me.
I stuck with it until about half way at which point I had no interest in what happened next or cared about the characters. Its very rare that I don’t finish a book.
I'm like a studious worm hole.
Mystifyingly captivating despite tenuous ramblings from time to time. It's an imaginative American road trip but which gives you a real sense of the people and places along the spiritual way. A story I doubt I will forget.
I mostly listen to fantasy and sci-fi, but really I just like a good yarn.
Reading the description I didn't think I would like this and fully expected to be returning it before the end. I only tried it because I loved stardust so much that I figured it was worth a gamble.
Turns out I was hooked within about 10 minutes!
I was intrigued, I really liked the main character and some of the other characters (Anansi might be my favourite) and felt intrigued about the less likeable characters.
I loved how all of the little sub plots knitted together and I honestly didn't see what was coming until right before it happened.
"A Benchmark Title"
An absolute modern classic book evolves into an absolute modern classic audiobook. Gaiman is one of my favourite authors (write more, damn you!) and American Gods is maybe his finest work. This is pretty much my favourite audiobook thus far.
incredible audiobook, varied cast and amazing voice acting performances really make this a stand out experience.
"brilliant story, thrilling characters"
Very deep and detailed story of a man finding himself again after being in prison --- but finding so much more as he gets involved with the gods. Amazing pictures of myth and legend, happening today.
One of the best books I've ever written. The best part of the book (for me) was when Shadow was tied up on the tree - I could visualise everything and felt like I was right there with him experiencing every single thing he was going through.
"Best audio book I've ever listened to"
The story is great obviously.
But the cast is what makes this audiobook so memorable.
"Strange, slow moving, story"
The characters in American Gods are interesting and the reading performance is superb. American Gods deals with the weird, the strange, and the unreal - all of which I like. However, I also like stuff to actually happen, and this novel kept me waiting too long between the main events. The plot was too slow moving for my liking. It kept me interested until the end, but only barely.
"Hooked on the First listen"
Loved it. Great narration and voice acting. Shadow and Wednesday are played really well by the actors
"Best of Neil Gaiman"
American Gods is weird and wild trip through the USA with quirky characters on the way. I love this audiobook so much I've listened to it three times and always been surprised to discover new nuances, a forgotten fable or unexpected plot twist. The performances by the narrators are superb as they become the procession of characters in Gaiman's epic novel. This isn't necessarily a battle of good against evil but more a fight between old and new gods. The main character Shadow, is easy to like. He's a noble man but other characters are strongly flawed, which makes them deliciously terrible. This is not just the best of Gaiman's book, it's also my favourite novel of all time (so far). Listen and let yourself get lost in a warped fantasy about lost and new gods.
"A bit disappointing but good fun"
I expected more of this novel as I loved Good Omens & the Sandman series. It wasn't funny like Good Omens & it didn't have that same high fantasy quality as Sandman. But it was pretty good - the really morbid bits were my favourite, they were edgy. I enjoyed the performances though I thought many of the female voices were breathy & overdone. But this is not a women's book - it borderline failed the Bechdel test. I can only think of one sustained
conversation between women & it was mainly about Shadow. I felt some of the 'ethnic legends' sections were a bit co-opted, too. The idea that the gods were with the slaves in Santo Domingo but that people didn't have enough belief in mainland America (for a revolt) was super dodgy.
Overall a bit disappointing but pretty good fun.
Yes. Fascinating story, brilliant narration. What is not to like?
Master and Margarita. The only theme the two books share is of God/Devil doing crazy things in our world. Other than that, they are very different.
I loved the scenes involving Mr. Ibis.
Spolier - Wednesday's death. I did not see that coming, and it left me feeling sad. I kept hoping it is a mistake, maybe the author will bring him back. He did in a sense, but not in the same way.
Kudos to the narrator. I have become a fan.
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