Click through for tidbits from the forum discussion of American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Spoiler warnings in effect.
I enjoyed it, the plot was was always moving and there wasn’t really a point when I thought it was dragging on unnecessarily. The little side storied with the Queen of Sheba and the Djinn were nice to see and provided to a chance to see just what some of the other gods were did in their own time. However, the characters didn’t really feel all that fleshed out to me, I would have liked to have seen more of the minor characters and seen Shadow do more than miss his wife and be confused. The other thing that got me was that I felt like I should have known more about who the gods were, because there were a few times where gods were introduced without really being named, and I had to go back and make sure I didn’t miss it, then try to figure out who they were.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Great pacing and all the mythological references were great. The characters were pretty well characterized and the descriptions were vivid.
Story wise, the plot was pretty good and the motivations were all there. Although the end got a bit hokey to me like “Why was it necessary for Eostre to bring him back from the dead? If it was that easy, why didn’t they do that to Odin or his wife? During the battle, how did everyone hear/pay attention to him amidst everything?”
I’m a bit disappointed that the new gods were so lacking in characterization. That and we only sort of got to know 2 of them? It would’ve been cool if we knew about their genesis or their deaths as well so it’d be less one-sided. Also, all the Mister Town, Stone, Wood, etc. were pretty lame. I get that they were supposed to be sort of interchangeable but it just felt lame.
I feel that Gaiman having Eostre help bring Shadow back from the dead made a lot of sense, generally she is seen as a goddess of fertility and life, so bringing people back from the dead certainly could fall under her portfolio of powers. However, given the current state of the world, Eostre was only able to because she did have some faith stored due to the Easter celebrations that still invoke her (albeit unknowingly). Helping him seemed to weaken her quite considerably as she was described as having looked a bit older, losing some of her spark. So I wouldn’t say it is an easy thing to do, even for a god.
Some of the information Gaiman leaves out is generally intentional on his behalf. He likes the reader to make their own assumptions on certain topics. One case in particular that stands out is the darkly dressed man that meets with Wednesday rather early on in the novel. Though the man tells Shadow his name, he can never remember much about him save his air of wealth and some features. Even to this day Gaiman has never said what god this is, though many fans have their guesses.
GN Rating: 3.65 rounded up to a solid 4 out of 5
Read the rest of the discussion here.
May’s book is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
Science journalist Skloot makes a remarkable debut with this multilayered story about faith, science, journalism, and grace. It is also a tale of medical wonders and medical arrogance, racism, poverty and the bond that grows, sometimes painfully, between two very different women—Skloot and Deborah Lacks—sharing an obsession to learn about Deborah’s mother, Henrietta, and her magical, immortal cells. Henrietta Lacks was a 31-year-old black mother of five in Baltimore when she died of cervical cancer in 1951. Without her knowledge, doctors treating her at Johns Hopkins took tissue samples from her cervix for research. They spawned the first viable, indeed miraculously productive, cell line—known as HeLa. These cells have aided in medical discoveries from the polio vaccine to AIDS treatments. What Skloot so poignantly portrays is the devastating impact Henrietta’s death and the eventual importance of her cells had on her husband and children.
The next five books for the book club:
July—Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary
August—Zombie Spaceship Wasteland: A Book by Patton Oswalt
September—Sing You Home: A Novel
October—Something Like Summer
Tags: American Gods, book club, Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks