Ok, this is a long book but I did finish it over a week ago so I am basically just a bad blogger. I am also planning a wedding though which is coming round very quickly. So far that’s proved a decent excuse for not doing/being late for things so we’ll blame that.
Unless you don’t pay much attention to Amazon or the internet, you will probably be aware that there is an adaptation of American Gods being broadcast on Amazon Prime TV. New episodes every Monday. I bought my rather beautiful edition of this book because I’d heard the show would be starting at the beginning of May and it had, coincidentally, also been recommended by a friend not too long before.
Now, there are some books, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this, that I buy that then just sit on my shelf for years, looking very pretty but gathering dust. I always intend to read them, and occasionally I won’t have anything I desperately need to read and one will finally be plucked from the shelf and get it’s time in the sun. I fully expected American Gods to be one of those books but I happened to grab it on my way to work one Monday and read the first few pages on my lunch break. I was immediately hooked.
I’ve already mentioned this is a long book and it is. I don’t have it to hand but I’d say it’s around 700-800 pages, maybe a bit longer, maybe a bit shorter, but there’s a lot going on in those pages. Unlike Under the Dome, which relies on a giant cast of characters to flesh out what is ultimately a fairly simple story that takes place over the course of a few days, American Gods has a relatively tiny cast (admittedly with snapshots of a wider number) and a far more complex story.
One of the great joys of this is meeting characters inspired by gods you have heard of and can revel in feeling a bit smug at being so cultured (I immediately recognised Mr Nancy as Anansi the spider having taught the stories in school last year), but then also finding those you don’t and looking them up and admiring what Neil Gaiman has done. I’m not expert, I’m a non-religious, non-spiritual girl from England, but I don’t think there’s anything here to offend. Yes, there are some very gratuitous sex scenes (if you watch the Amazon adaptation you’ll have already scene the two major ones and will know exactly what I’m talking about) but the actual representation of the gods if brief enough to not be controversial, but colourful enough to be a celebration rather than a criticism.
Instead the criticism is against the direction in which society is moving. We are sacrificing our beliefs and culture in favour of our mobile phones, our favourite tv shows, our laptops and social media. This is not a ‘new’ book in the sense that it was released in the last couple of years, but its message is very very relevant.
You can probably tell I enjoyed this a lot. It’s right up my alley: a bit of Americana, a road trip, some supernatural stuff, and even a whodunit. It’s not for everyone but if you appreciate good writing and an incredible ability to tell a good story, I recommend it.
Book: The Woman Who Walked into the Sea – Mark Douglas-Home
Audio: Stranger Child – Rachel Abbott