Saturday, August 28, 2010

American Gods by Neil Gaiman Book of the Month

Beware that there will be spoilers!

1. American Gods is an epic novel dealing with many big themes, including sacrifice, loyalty, betrayal, love and faith. Which theme affected you the most strongly, and why?

2. Shadow begins the novel as a convict, and ends it a different man. How does the novel exploit the idea of America as a place where immigrants and exiles, both physical and emotional, can reinvent themselves? What makes Shadow himself so compelling and complex?

3. American Gods is partly road trip through small-town America, where Shadow can see the darker side of life that other people ignore. What does the novel say about what people will accept in order to maintain a sense of normality?

4. The old gods expect sacrifice, violence and worship? How have the adapted to the modern world? What does this say about the nature of divinity? How and why have Americans transferred their devotion to the new technological and material gods from the old spiritual gods? What comment is being made about modern cultural values?

5. What is the significance of the illusions, cons and magic tricks that occur throughout the novel? American Gods is a novel where magic, myth and the divine coexist with the normal, mundane and human in a way that is utterly believable. How is this illusion maintained?

6. How does the rick background description increase the power of the narrative? What dot he secondary characters, particularly the gods whose lives and deaths we are given a brief insight into, add to the novel?

7. Would you recommend this to anyone? Would you read any other of Neil Gaiman's work? If you would which ones look interesting to you? And if you have which ones would you recommend?

Check out the other Neil Gaiman books Lisa's read here and here and here
questions are taken from my UK edition :0)


  1. 1. faith because I am constantly questioning it

    3. I think it shows how people are creatures of habit, in the novel the people he meets in the small town in Wisconsin are completely ignorant of the pattern of missing children. It happens every year so they stop noticing it as something tragic but as something that happens and they just except it.

    4. The old gods have had a hard time adjusting making a war just so they won't be forgotten, which is pretty pathetic. I think that it says that unless gods have believers and followers they don't exist. It's like in movies and other stories when you have a character tell there greatest fear/enemy that they aren't afraid of them any more. I think people today find all the old beliefs or 'gods' silly. We can't believe how people thought spirits lived anywhere and everywhere, but I suppose that people in the future will have all new beliefs and they will think the way people to day believe and worship as silly. I think the comment it's making is that people are easily swayed. I don't actually think modern cultural VALUES have changed, just technology.

    6. I think the short stories in between should be given there own book. I enjoyed them individually, but I didn't always like being taken out of the main story for a short one that didn't add specifically to the main story line. I didn't feel it added anything that is worth mentioning. Maybe I'm wrong and had I read the story without I would have felt that something was missing? But that's not how it is.

    I am a huge Neil Gaiman fan and would recommend most of his work, wasn't a huge fan of The Graveyard Book, but everything else of his that I've read I sing only praise!
    This book sits on my shelf waiting to be read again some day.
    Sorry it took me a while to write!! I hope that anyone else who was able to read it enjoyed it as much as I did! Even if you don't want to answer the questions please tell us if you liked it in our poll!! :0)

  2. It took me awhile, but I finally finished the book! I liked it but had a hard time staying interested as the book went on. Anyway, the questions:

    1. I'm not sure I was too effected by the themes of the book - although I thought the whole god-sacrificing-his-son-for-some-benefit allegory was done in an interesting and unexpected way. I also really liked the whole "America is not a place for gods" theme was pretty cool...because I think it's true.

    2. Shadow is introduced from the beginning as a nice guy who got wrapped up in a bad situation. I don't really feel like his character changed much at all through out the book - he was pretty genuine the whole time.

    3. People will accept anything that is "normal" especially in the Midwest where tradition is held in such high regard.

    4. I actually really liked this portrayal of gods - that they are only what we allow them to be. I also liked the way new gods were "born" in the novel - as soon as the people begin relying on something and "worshiping" it, it essentially becomes a god. As for the statement about the god requiring sacrifice and violence, so many battles are fought daily over gods and religion and beliefs in general. I think in general, it's not so much the gods requiring it, as it is the people needing to feel like they have a connection.

    5. It's a book about gods. Of course there is magic and illusion...

    6. I liked the numerous stories about the various gods being brought to America and then forgotten. It's the sort of thing I never really thought about. I didn't like so much the depiction of more familiar "gods" like Easter...she was a bit repulsive.

    7. I've read a couple other Gaiman books and this was probably my least favorite. I LOVED "Good Omens" and "Neverwhere" was fantastic, but this book was just a little too dry for my taste...funny that I would think a book about gods and war and murder and sacrifice is dry...

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