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)
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.
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
- although I seem to recall the original edition being kind of slow, too ↩