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maandag 25 april 2011

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

A real American mythology

When Shadow is getting ready to be released from prison he is eager to start his life anew. Returning to his wife, starting a new job. But fate has something else in store for him. A few days before he is allowed to leave, his wife Laura dies in a car crash while going down on Shadow’s best friend Robbie, the guy who was going to provide Shadow with a new job. Alone and without any prospect on a bright future, Shadow reluctantly accepts the job of bodyguard for a mysterious guy called Mr. Wednesday. Soon enough it becomes clear that Wednesday is one of the old American Gods and is on a mission to fight the New Gods. Shadow supports his employer while travelling across America, but does not realize that his task is much bigger than he could anticipate.

With Neil Gaiman there are no boundaries to the fantasy worlds he creates. In American Gods he elaborates on the realm he created in the famous Sandman comics and builds upon the premise that gods only exist because people keep believing in them. In what is basically a road movie, Neil slowly reveals that crazy reality with a panache that is so typical to this fantastic author. Although the pace of the story is rather slow, it brings enough fresh ideas to invigorate the reader’s attention. His visual style lends itself perfectly for the more exuberant chapters like the one with the succubus-like prostitute, a chapter that in my twisted mind deserves even an actual spin-off. For readers with enough knowledge of mythology is probably is also a lot of fun to try to link the characters to known mythological figures.

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