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CR3 #36: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

There is something about Neil Gaiman's style that I really really enjoy. His work is fantasy, and it's often got some dark humor to it, but it's neither obnoxious nor unbelievable.

The main idea of American Gods is that when people came to the United States, they all brought versions of their own native gods (or legends, or mythological beings) with them. As time went on, however, the people began to stop worshipping--or forget entirely about--those ancient gods (for example the Norse god Odin, Mad Sweeney from Ireland, the Zorya from Russia, or the ancient Egyptian gods). The gods were left to try and fend for themselves as personified, but still magical beings. Even worse, they now much compete with the modern gods of Media, the Internet, and the other things that Americans tend to worship. The main character of the story is Shadow, an ex-con who suffers a tragic event and then finds himself mixed up with the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. Mr. Wednesday is preparing for an epic battle, and needs Shadow's help.

The story is great, and I really enjoy trying to figure which gods were which. Gaiman often alludes to history, literature, world religions, and pop culture, and I love stories where an author will allow his readers to draw their own conclusions instead of banging them over the head with every reference. In addition, Shadow is a very sympathetic character, and I found myself really rooting for him no matter what happened. Actually, I was very disappointed when the book ended, because could happily have read another several hundred pages about him.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, or even just a really good, very smart story.

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