American Gods: 10th Anniversary Edition by Neil Gaiman

American Gods: 10th Anniversary Edition by Neil GaimanAmerican Gods: 10th Anniversary Edition by Neil Gaiman
Published: William Morrow (2001), eBook, 560pg
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasy, Fiction, GLBTQ, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
Source: Bought


Summary:

Days before his release from prison, Shadow's wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.

Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.

Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, AMERICAN GODS takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You'll be surprised by what and who it finds there... (from Goodreads)

Buy on Amazon | Goodreads

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The first time I read American Gods was back in 2006, and while I remember liking it I ALSO remember not really “getting” it. I didn’t understand a lot of it– mainly I couldn’t understand Shadow, who came off as emotionless and weird and scary. Now, though, six years later, I TOTALLY get it. I understand Shadow not the carboard-y character I thought he was at first. I understand the main plot, with the gods and their war and whatever. I even understand the underlying symbolism stuff! Understanding stuff that I didn’t the first time I read a book is what makes rereading worth it, imo.

For instance: in 2006 I don’t think I understood that sometimes when people are grieving they turn off their emotions, like. Sometimes they I probably thought that grief was like what’d you see on a soap opera: messy, melodramatic, and with a lot of tears. Shadow didn’t grieve like a person on a soap opera would grieve, and so I thought there was something wrong with him.

The author

Nowadays, of course, I know better. I probably also READ better, and so when I read about Shadow finding out his wife died and that he’s getting out of jail early, I can actually understand how he’s feeling now. Back then? In 2006? I just thought it was weird he wasn’t more upset. See?

My new understanding might have come from taking all those literature classes in college, or it might be because I’m just older and thus more knowledablge in general. But it might also be because the 10th anniversary version of American Gods has got new bits added to it that weren’t there in the original version that I read way back when. In the intro to this version Neil Gaiman says that his editor clipped out stuff to keep the plot moving and the story tighter (paraphrasing, here). And maybe the 10th an. version is less fast-paced,1 but it also seems fuller, more rounded out and thus, perhaps, more understandable as a whole. It reads like a slightly better version of the original, which I think was the whole point of releasing a new version in the first place.

I think that if you’d read the original version and didn’t really like it, you MIGHT like this version better. Or maybe you won’t! Maybe you’ll read it again and the characters/plot/writing still won’t click and you’ll go away thinking my judgment stinks. Who knows, really.

Read: February 10-12, 2012

Footnotes

  1. although I seem to recall the original edition being kind of slow, too

9 Comments

  1. This is really good to know. I read the original last year (was it only last year?) and did like it and didn’t know if I should move on to the anniversary edition. Now I’m thinking that I should but that I will probably give it another couple of years so that a little bit of freshness can seep back into the story for me.

  2. When I first read the original, I loved it to death, and I’ve never loved it as much on any of my rereads. I still like it, but not nearly as much as some of Gaiman’s other work. Maybe the anniversary edition — I still haven’t read it because I’m foolish! — will revive my love for it. That would please me.

    • Anastasia

      I have a weird thing about NG’s stuff– I love it when I’m reading it but then, after finishing it, I feel a bit “meh.” I don’t know why that is! The only exceptions seem to be American Gods (especially this version) and his comic books.

  3. Yay, I’m so glad your opinion of Shadow has shifted! I’ve always read him as a guy numbed by grief, but I know an awful lot of people who’ve thought he was just plain flat. Which, y’know, is a valid response, but it’s always made me feel a bit weird for reading him the other way.

    I hope to read this sometime in the next couple of months. I’ve read the original version four times, but my records say I haven’t revisited it since 2006. Eeek! That’s too long away from a beloved book.

    • Anastasia

      Yes, me too! I think his grief/emotional things are so subtle that if you’re not really paying attention (as I wasn’t during my first reading) you could miss it. Maybe also this version adds in some more non-subtle stuff, too, though!

  4. Pingback: American Gods by Neil Gaiman « The Sleepless Reader

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