American Gods by Neil Gaiman

77%

47 Critic Reviews

Like most road-trip novels, American Gods can be disjointed and episodic, but, like the best of them, it's still worth the trip.
-AV Club

Synopsis

First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic—an intellectual and artistic benchmark from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman. Now discover the mystery and magic of American Gods in this tenth anniversary edition. Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text, this commemorative volume is a true celebration of a modern masterpiece by the one, the only, Neil Gaiman.

A storm is coming . . .

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.

Relevant and prescient, American Gods has been lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is, quite simply, an outstanding work of literary imagination that will endure for generations.

 

About Neil Gaiman

See more books from this Author
Neil Gaiman is the nationally bestselling author of The Graveyard Book, the only book ever to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie Medals. He lives near Minneapolis, MN. You can visit him online at www.mousecircus.com.Michael Reaves is an Emmy Award-winning television writer and novelist who has written, story-edited, or produced nearly four hundred teleplays for various series. He lives in California. You can visit him online at www.michaelreaves.com.
 
Published June 21, 2011 by William Morrow. 565 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Action & Adventure, Business & Economics, Horror. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon6
Peak Rank on Feb 05 2012
icon3
Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
1
Want to Read
2
Have Read
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Critic reviews for American Gods
All: 47 | Positive: 38 | Negative: 9

Kirkus

Excellent

A magical mystery tour through the mythologies of all cultures, a unique and moving love story—and another winner for the phenomenally gifted, consummately reader-friendly Gaiman.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by David Barnett on Jul 29 2014

There's horror, perhaps prompting that marketing conference which decided to ally him with King, but there's also a lot of hope, a lot of fun and a sense of wonder which makes this a joyful, satisfying and enriching experience.

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Guardian

Above average
on Aug 19 2011

It is a satisfaction of much fantasy that it draws on legends that already exist.

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Guardian

Good
on Jul 07 2011

Through this remarkable tale, Gaiman takes the reader into the heart of America.

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Book Reporter

Excellent
on Jan 20 2011

AMERICAN GODS, simply put, is a masterpiece. You're gonna love it and never forget it.

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AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Tasha Robinson on Apr 19 2002

Like most road-trip novels, American Gods can be disjointed and episodic, but, like the best of them, it's still worth the trip.

Read Full Review of American Gods | See more reviews from AV Club

Entertainment Weekly

Above average
on Jul 11 2001

Gaiman's old fans will find it familiar but formidable, new readers will find it provocative yet fun, and it bodes well for Gaiman's future that he's created a world where both can get along.

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Pajiba

Good
on Nov 20 2008

I suppose the bottom line for me and why I loved this so, was the ideas. Ideas about divinity, humanity and how to be in the world. It’s a fantastical novel set in our world and ‘backstage’ in the world of the gods but it manages to ring true.

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Tor

Excellent
on Mar 01 2011

Whatever it is I want from a book, American Gods has it in spades.

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SF Site

Excellent

Hard as it may be to believe, Gaiman has managed to top himself with a story that merits the label of classic.

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PopMatters

Good
Reviewed by Sabadino Parker on Apr 08 2014

With brilliance, Gaiman has painted a portrait of the American, as well as of America itself, and, in so doing, created a tale worthy to be placed alongside the finest of American literature. He has presented a mirror whereby, perhaps, Americans can better understand themselves.

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PopMatters

Above average

Gaiman’s greatest achievement in American Gods is the manner in which he is able to express and comment upon his experience with America through wildly fantastical elements.

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Salon

Good
Reviewed by Laura Miller on Jun 22 2001

With its mythological echoes, puns, in jokes and other decodable references, “American Gods” will delight the sort of reader who likes to hunt for such things.

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Boing Boing

Below average
on Mar 01 2008

This isn't going to cost Neil any sales, but it's also not going to buy him any.

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Dominion of New York

Above average
Reviewed by PETER DAMIEN on Jun 18 2013

It was a good book to get stuck on, because it’s big and rambling and baggy, something that I enjoy in books. There was a lot of space in there to crawl inside of and live in, in a way.

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Nerdist

Excellent
on Aug 20 2010

It’s a much deeper read than you’d expect right off the bat, leading the reader to question theology and the course of the world...

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Tech Republic

Good
Reviewed by Jay Garmon on Jan 15 2007

American Gods isn't a pop-fantasy novel that can be easily digested or read in one easy sitting. It aims for far more literary weight than that, taking on heady themes and harsh ideas by way of a fantastic premise.

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Tech Republic

Good
Reviewed by Jay Garmon on Jan 15 2007

It's a novel that asks a lot of its reader, but like the long, arduous trek catalogued in the book, it's a trip worth making.

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Functional Nerds

Good
Reviewed by Catherine Russell on Apr 02 2012

American Gods has found a place on my bookshelf alongside my other favorite novels. If you read this book, I suspect it will find a place on yours as well.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Silencewillfall on Apr 08 2014

It’s a thick book which becomes hard to follow and a bit too elaborate is a chapter or too before the climax, but even this becomes worth it in the end.

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Yahoo! Voices

Excellent
Reviewed by Jonathan Gad on Jul 18 2011

...whether you want a good read or are content to wait for it on HBO, whichever your preference I cannot recommend American Gods highly enough.

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Curled Up

Above average
Reviewed by Sharon Schulz-Elsing on Apr 09 2014

American Gods resembles a cross between "The Sting" and a Passion play, corrupting our deepest spiritual longings with the desire to be in on the con. Gaiman, a transplanted Briton, is an outsider looking in here, and as such is able to cut to the heart of our New World angst in an ancient land.

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Fantasy Book Review

Good
Reviewed by Joshua S Hill on Apr 09 2014

If you are a fan of either of the three categories, a fan of literature, America, or even a fan of zombies (what’s a dead wife if she can’t come back to visit, eh?), American Gods by Neil Gaiman is for you.

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That's What She Read

Excellent
Reviewed by Michelle on Mar 15 2012

Extremely well-written, the reader is taken on a whirlwind adventure filled with displaced, humanized gods seeking to reclaim some of their former glory. It is a premise that is breathtaking in its scope and ambition and lives up to it all.

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http://skrishnasbooks.com

Below average
Reviewed by Swapna Krishna on Jul 23 2011

...the story meandered way too much for my taste. There didn’t really seem to be any rhyme or reason to what Shadow was doing or where he was going, and I found myself struggling to understand what was going on more than once.

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http://www.bookdrum.com

Good
on Apr 09 2014

American Gods is full of fascinating, quirky characters -- human, deity or other. It is brimming with intrigue, mystery, plot twists, cultural legends, and amusing observations of some uniquely American traditions.

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The Book Smugglers

Excellent
Reviewed by Thea on Jul 04 2008

This is a book that is not for the faint of heart. American Gods is a novel with jagged, razor teeth...This book is a classic, to be cherished by generations to come...I recommend it to everyone.

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Inverarity is not a Scottish village

Below average
on Jul 11 2011

Neil Gaiman is, in my opinion, a great storyteller. But that's all he is -- a spinner of yarns that are greatly entertaining and keep you turning pages, and that's not a bad thing, but he is neither a great writer...

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Fangs For The Fantasy

Above average
Reviewed by Sparky on Aug 20 2012

I generally hate books that are long winded, books that are slow, books that have poor pacing, books that have excessive distractions and lots of slow description. And this book had all of that. But, I didn’t hate it – I didn’t hate it because I loved the writing style.

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http://bestfantasybooks.com

Below average

The problem is that you can see Wednesday’s identity a mile off, and finding out at the end why he chose Shadow over all the other ex-cons in the world is about as subtle as a piano falling on your head.

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Sophisticated Dorkiness

Above average
Reviewed by Kim on Aug 13 2009

I’m glad I gave this book another chance because I liked it much better than when I tried to read it last summer. However, parts of the story were confusing, and I’m not sure the book wrapped everything up to my satisfaction.

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SF Book Reviews

Good
Reviewed by Antony on Mar 01 2013

There is no getting away from the fact that American Gods is a long book, the meandering style and non-linear plot do at times highlight the scale of this novel but it's also one of those stories that imitate life; read it for the journey and not the destination.

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The Founding Fields

Good
Reviewed by Bane Of Kings on Jan 05 2012

After reading this novel, Gaiman has made me want to hunt down as many Gaiman books that I can find, because if they are as good as American Gods has been, then I should enjoy them all.

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Eagle

Below average
on Nov 28 2012

I didn't enjoy this as much on the second reading as I did on the first. It didn't feel quite as coherent as I'd remembered it, and the meandering pace occasionally made the story feel stretched. But I do like Shadow, I love spending time in Gaiman's head...

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Chick Loves Lit

Below average
Reviewed by Shanyn on Aug 16 2011

Did Steve read a Neil Gaiman book and not love it? Uh, oh. It was fine, but I didn’t see where it was awesome.

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Bookgasm

Above average
Reviewed by Alan Cranis on Jul 11 2011

The passing years have done little to diminish Gaiman’s fascinating premise and inventive narrative. Almost every moment of the story is embellished with provoking observations about religion, myth, secrets and sex.

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Entomology of a Bookworm

Above average
on Jan 16 2012

...if I cannot believe that Shadow would act as he does, or react as he does, can I believe anything I am reading? Despite this, however, American Gods is what one might call a thoughtful -- and thought-provoking -- novel, and in this, it redeems itself.

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Val's Random Comments

Good
Reviewed by Lana on Jan 29 2014

I think it is a good story, and a story that has been put together really well. I have always found Gaiman's style of writing entertaining and easy to follow, so too in this book even though it is darker than the other books by him that I have read.

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I Was Angelized 1st

Good
Reviewed by Tiffany Brown on Jan 04 2014

American Gods poses the idea of “what if?” and makes you wonder if there’s a world beyond the one we see daily. Do Gods exist and if they do are our souls in danger? Whether or not you believe in the Gods, the Gods believe in you.

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Melody & Words

Below average
Reviewed by Jackson on Sep 09 2011

...the overarching plot of the war between the old and new gods sounds compelling, but often is too farfetched. The mystical nature of the gods, and how their power is often displayed in dreams or a surreal “backstage” world often seemed difficult to engage with.

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Nylon Admiral

Good
Reviewed by Kayleigh Murphy on Jun 20 2011

It was engrossing and engaging and filled with characters who were so layered and complex that they almost jumped off the page and walked out my front door.

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http://www.feoamante.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Christopher Treagus on Apr 09 2014

Gaiman's novel is far more than just the sum of its central theme, however. Twists of plot and subtle subplot make up the bulk; satisfactorily carried through by Gaiman's protagonist...

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SF Fantasy

Excellent
Reviewed by Shawn Speakman on Jun 27 2011

Readers love The Graveyard Book. Readers love Sandman. But for me, it doesn’t get any better than American Gods.

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The Incurable Bluestocking

Excellent
on Nov 25 2011

This book is a masterpiece, and I don’t say that lightly. It has a truly phenomenal scope and, I think, a phenomenal appeal.

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The Fringe Magazine

Excellent
on Sep 01 2011

...AMERICAN GODS is truly one of the finest novels I have ever read. If you have the time to invest, I strongly urge you to purchase AMERICAN GODS. You won't regret it.

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http://www.januarymagazine.com

Good
Reviewed by David Dalgleish on Jul 01 2001

a vision of America as a vast, populous patchwork of immigrant cultures, a Babel of beliefs and legends told in a multitude of tongues. They help the author in his task of mythologizing America without reducing it. It is not an easy task, but Gaiman, in his best and most ambitious work since The Sandman, is equal to it.

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Once Upon A Time

Good
Reviewed by ANGELYA on Feb 08 2012

Neil Gaiman is a brilliant writer, with witty turns-of-phrase and an unrestrained imagination. This was the first of his books I’ve read and I’ll definitely be reading some of his other works.

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Reader Rating for American Gods
78%

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Rated the book as 4.5 out of 5

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Rated the book as 3.5 out of 5

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