Another book to check off my reading bucket list. This has been my favorite book of all time for a long time. I’ve read it at least 5 times, and it shows: the book is quite worn-out and the cover has been torn into two pieces (I have used the loose part as a bookmark). Without spoiling the story too much for you who haven't read it, it's about all the gods people have worshiped in the past: ancient Egyptian gods, Norse gods, Indian gods, African tribal gods, gods that people have believed in when they came to America. The story follows the gods trying to struggle in the modern world where everybody has forgotten about them and no one believes in them anymore. There's an epic battle looming between the old gods and the new "gods" we now love: internet, television, stock markets and money. It’s kind of sci-fi or fantasy, very dark and a bit weird = my kind of a story.
Small side note for you who don’t know me: I’m a geek and a nerd, even though I try to hide it under normal adult attire. I love Star Wars and Lord of The Rings, I’m obsessed with Game of Thrones, and I read mostly fantasy and sci-fi books. I can quote Star Wars and know poems from LOTR by heart (for example the one that starts “All that is gold does not glitter; Not all those who wander are lost…”). We have Star Wars posters (yes, more than one), a couple of My Neighbor Totoro and two Tintin posters hanging on our walls and a genuine '80's Transformers figurine on display (it’s Magnus’s but I bought it)… And so on, you get the point.
I hadn’t read the book for at least 7 years: even though I don’t believe in supernatural things reading the book started to get a bit creepy. Things that happened in the book kept happening to me at the same time, and this was not only on one occasion but every time I read the book. For example: I was sitting on a train while reading the story and got really tired all of the sudden. I tried to read to the end of the page to keep track of my reading before dozing off to sleep. About an hour later I woke up feeling disoriented and groggy. I continued to read and on the next page the main character, Shadow, woke up a few hours later after he had been drugged. Another time reading the book (back when I still used to smoke) I paused to light a cigarette and continuing with the story the sentence was something like “He took a packet of Lucky Strikes from his pocket and lit a cigarette with a black Bic lighter.” I looked down to my hands and there were a packet of Lucky Strikes and a black Bic lighter. I felt chills down my spine. These are just a few examples of many, but you can certainly understand why I have found the book a bit creepy and disturbing…
Another reason I haven’t read the book for a while was that I was afraid I wouldn’t like it anymore. There’s a difference being 22 and liking something to being 30; maybe the book wouldn’t be as great as I remembered and I would spoil it. Despite these fears I decided to have another go with it. And I was glad to notice I still liked it. It is still a great book. I can still call it one of my favorite books all time.
The story is really weird as I mentioned earlier and it’s hard to compare to any other book I have ever read. Having read it before and thus knowing how it ends, the impact of the story is not as massive and “mind-blowing” as the first time reading through: you couldn’t have guessed the ending and it is nothing like you expected. However you will find a lot of small hints and word plays throughout the book if you know what you are looking for and the things that you would have found very absurd the first time make suddenly sense.
Nothing creepy happened to me this time reading the book. I did fall asleep at the same point of the story as I mentioned earlier, but it's probably either because I was really tired and tried to reach the end of the paragraph, or maybe the story is just really boring at that point. Who knows, but this time I didn't get the creeps .
P.S. I’ve read other Neil Gaiman’s books as well: Neverwhere, Anansi Boys, Stardust, Smoke and Mirrors, and Fragile Things (the latter two are collections of short stories) but I have liked none of the others so much that I would read them twice or recommend them for anyone. In my opinion The American Gods is definitely Gaiman’s masterpiece and I have been wondering why no one has turned it into a movie yet, it would have such a great potential.