An unusual and creative tale that weaves together every god from every religion you’ve ever heard of, and many you probably haven’t. I wonder how much research Gaiman did for this book, because it seems like he took a “history of world religions” type course where the final exam was to package everything you learned into a novel. In which case I’m sure he passed. He’s created a world where the majority of the characters are gods; not that you’d notice. Many have menial full time jobs. Some are hobos. Some have mental health problems. It’s a bizarre world. He folds little separate stories into the batter of the main story, nuts and candied fruit in a fruitcake. Very bitter candied fruit, the stories are dark and tragic and don’t have happy endings. The human characters are well constructed, lots of quirks and inconsistencies, and the women are almost as numerous as the men, and almost as important. Almost. Not quite. Still above average though.
I’d also give this book content warnings for graphic violence, and a very detailed description of an autopsy. This may be par for the course for Neil Gaiman, but if you’re sensitive to gore you’ll need to brace yourself for parts of this book. Strangely, I feel that this will be the sort of book I’ll remember more and more fondly as time goes on; though while reading it I found I was somewhat ambivalent about it. Which seems to suit the nature of the book, it insinuates itself into you when you stop paying attention to it.
One final tidbit: American Gods has a MAJOR spoiler for HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds. If you want to read The War of the Worlds and not have the ending utterly ruined for you, you’ll have to read it before reading American Gods. When I read TWW I had no idea how it was going to end, and the surprise really helped to make the book for me. If you want to read TWW, (and I recommend you do), do it before you read American Gods.