Suspension of Disbelief: American Gods
Suspension of Disbelief is a weekly feature, in which we review movies, books, TV shows, and other popular culture for the skeptical teen.
Review: I admit, Neil Gaiman was one of those authors I’ve been told I need to read for years. After his Doctor Who episode, I was intrigued, and so borrowed by roommate’s copy of American Gods. 9 hours later, I turned the last page. This is definitely a book I’m glad I finally got do, although I was woefully overdue.
American Gods is one of the most complex books I’ve read, which after an epic 1000-page exposition to a 10-part series by Brandon Sanderson, is saying quite a lot. The story follows the adventures of a man named Shadow, who gets mixed up in a war between the gods. Old gods exist in America, as the people who worshipped them immigrated there. Those gods, however, get forgotten over time, and new gods, the gods of industry and the media and the other things modern Americans worship, appear, to quickly fall to the same fate. Wednesday, one of the old gods, gathers the rest of them together to wage war against the new gods, for their survival in a nearly godless country. A storm is coming… but of whose making?
This was one of those books I literally couldn’t put down. Every time I took I break, I kept churning the story over in my head, trying to make connections and, like Shadow, figure out what’s going on. Even knowing the resolution, I want to re-read this one, and pick up all the subtleties and foreshadowings I missed the first time around. It has a few parts that might make younger readers uncomfortable (there’s a couple rather explicit sexual scenes in the book), and it helps to have a good understanding of multiple mythologies, particularly Norse and Egyptian, before reading. However, even if you don’t have that background, I’d absolutely recommend this book. Not only is it just an engaging, well-written, nuanced, brilliant story, but it also explores themes like tragedy, death, love, self-discovery, and more, that are relevant to the real world as well.