American Gods by Neil Gaiman.
HarperCollins Publishers: NY, 2001.
Originally William Morrow: NY, 2001.

There is a battle brewing between the forgotten gods from other countries and cultures and the new American gods of technology and money. The forgotten gods feed on some form of sacrifice (given freely or not) to stay alive. Shadow, formerly in prison, has been contracted by one of the gods (apparently the ringleader) to play an important role in the confrontation. It isn't clear until the end what his purpose is; he is just following orders. Because he has been set up, his wife comes back from the dead to protect him. His innate goodness also affords him protection.

A host of gods and cultural figures are trotted out in this literary tale-mostly the forgotten ones. They lead colorful, and mostly pathetic, lives. I would have been interested to see more of the new gods.

Perhaps I read through it too quickly. I sense there is more under the surface than I recognized. It is definitely a symbolic work. In this copy of the story, there are an interview and review questions, which I read halfway through, to help mull it over.

I read the book after reading a teacher's discussion of using the book in her high school class. There are a couple spots in the book that might not be considered appropriate for that level. They are small parts that can be glossed over. I think the story is excellent and certainly understandable to teenagers. However, being a sheltered female, I would not have been prepared as a teen for the graphicness of a scene in the first chapter. I might have skipped over it and been relieved the rest wasn't that way. Or I might have stopped reading the book. As an adult, I don't feel the scene is necessary. To me, sex is a personal and private thing, and I don't like to see it cheapened or used to sell. Otherwise, it is a deep and riveting story-an exceptional story with reason and a perfect balance between description and visual fluidity.

related-America, faith, sacrifice, purpose of gods, deception, mystery
RL=adult, YA depending on maturity level

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