American Gods – Neil Gaiman [Books]

american gods

I originally read American Gods years ago, but since seeing the first series of the TV show I wanted to reread it. Listening to the full cast audio version via Audible seemed a good way of getting reacquainted with the story.  As I’ve said before, I’m really enjoying the full cast audio productions, and American Gods is no different.

Shadow Moon is on the verge of being released from prison, and he cannot wait to return home to his wife, Laura. But things don’t go to plan. and Shadow is released early due to the death of Laura and his best friend. With no wife and no job to return to, Shadow very reluctantly accepts a job from the mysterious Mr Wednesday. As Shadow is drawn deeper into Wednesday’s world, he’s also drawn into a brewing war, one between the old gods and the new, one Wednesday seems determined to win.

Like the version of the book I originally read, this is the extended version – the ‘author’s cut’, in a sense. With scenes which were originally taken out of the book. It’s sort of strange coming back to a book like this after so long, especially with a TV series between readings.

Some elements were clear in my mind, and others I remembered as the story progressed, mainly those parts that were changed from book to TV show. But listening to the audio version was a great experience, and the voice actors involved really matched the characters well, especially Shadow and Wednesday.

Listening to this reminded me why I loved the book in the first place. Shadow is an absolute sweetheart, just trying always to do the right thing, though sometimes it’s hard to tell what the right thing is. And the people around him push and pull in every direction, meaning he’s not always completely clear on what’s happening, left with no choice but to simply go through with it. Even then, he does it, and he does it without complaint, because he’s made a promise and Shadow never breaks a promise.

Shadow is well written, and so undeniably human in the face of all these gods who surround him. He doesn’t back down from a challenge, something that can be dangerous when faced with gods. And around him is a really strong supporting ‘cast’, including his dead wife, Laura.

As well as great characters, there are some absolutely wonderful settings here, rich in their description and all which serve a solid purpose, from The House on the Rock (which I want to visit so, so bad) to the town where Shadow hides. Gaiman creates beautiful settings which really serve the story, and it works so well here, grounding us even as Wednesday and Shadow zip from one place to the next.

I really enjoyed re experiencing this world again, and getting to meet these characters in a different setting. The book and TV show are very different, and though I haven’t caught up with season 2, I did thoroughly enjoy season 1, but it’s definitely a situation where both should be viewed slightly separate from one another. That said, if you are a fan of the show but haven’t yet read the book, I do recommend checking it out. And if you are a fan of audio books, the full cast version of this was absolutely fantastic.

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