I must admit I was confused when I began reading. The causes of my confusion were two, well they were three. And all come from the book’s cover.
First, see the picture of my book? Well, on its cover, above the title of the 10th anniversary edition it says in yellow letters: “The Bestselling Underground Novel”. So, when reading it, I was trying to find the alternative of parallel cultural positions of the characters or the narrator, but nope, none I found. At the beginning I thought there was going to be an ironic touch somewhere in the novel that would clarify me the “underground” thingy, but by page 272 it was clear there’s no underground theme in it and that the slogan is pure shitty marketing. Examples: the main character, Shadow Moon, loves American fast food and chocolates, his wife Laura loves to give blow-jobs, the characters like to ask for local food on their car trip across the US, people stay at motels, half of the guys carry guns, a sexagenarian loves to have sex with young girls, the “opposition” kidnaps and beats Shadow, there’s a whore that is a goddess, and an overweight kid has a protagonist role. Underground? Nope, you won’t find no underground attitude on it, not even literary or ironic.
Second motive for confusion. I was expecting the sci-fi motives and themes on it, but this is a pure fantasy novel. On the bottom of the cover, in black letters, it says: “Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel”. I thought the Hugo award was for science-fiction, but Wikipedia educated me and now I know that since 1992 the Hugo Award dropped the Science Fiction Achievement Awards title. In regards to the Nebula Awards it seems they began to give them to fantasy narratives in 2002 with this work, American Gods. So I didn’t find any sci-fi on it.
Third, this 10th anniversary edition has 12,000 words more than the original published novel and is the preferred author’s text. So I was expecting the kind of scenes you assume an editor deletes for a fantasy novel. But no, no gross, hard, challenging, debatable, philosophical, uncanny, or underground scenes came on it. Hence, this edition demonstrates again that writers must follow their editors advise when publishing a text.
So, let’s hit the novel.
First of all, if you’re going to read it get the standard edition and save yourself from reading 12,000 words that do not procure anything relevant to the narrative thread.
Second, it is very entertaining. I mean, the novel is Bible sized 750-pages long, but you read it as if it was half the size, easy language, non-complicated situations, familiar events, no deep analysis of the characters, no profound descriptions, no interesting reflections, sometimes even seems to be written for teens.
Third, the characters are gods, yes, American Gods, meaning the novel’s premise is that gods exist and live in the US because the people brought them with their beliefs when they came to America. But as nothing is forever in this lovely country, well, gods are forgotten and weaken. What I found illogical is that a long time forgotten god, Norse guy Odin, is one of the most powerful. I guess this comes from the love of American white Anglo-saxons for the Nordic tradition, but it’s simply my guess. Furthermore, there’s an absence of local gods, i.e. no roles for the gods native people’s pantheon and a lot of minor gods and goddess of European cultures also appear on the story and seem to be powerful even though nobody believes on them.
If you’re curious about it, before getting the book, watch the first two chapters on Amazon Prime Video. They’re identical to the book, so that will give you an idea of the mood.