The book "American Gods": reviews, author, plot and characters

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The book "American Gods": reviews, author, plot and characters
The book "American Gods": reviews, author, plot and characters

Video: The book "American Gods": reviews, author, plot and characters

Video: The book "American Gods": reviews, author, plot and characters
Video: American Gods (Spoiler Free) | REVIEW 2023, September

Neil Gaiman's American Gods is rightfully considered one of the most interesting sci-fi books written in the last fifty years! The writer does not just create another universe, which is a collaboration of mythological worlds invented by the folk genius of different countries, he masterfully adapts the realities of ancient customs to the rules of existence in our world.

Thanks to an extraordinary concept, an interesting plot and a masterful play on words, the novel became a bestseller almost immediately after publication and has not lost popularity for almost a couple of decades.

The success of the book "American Gods" allowed the writer to start an independent literary career, leave his job on television, and also leave the position of screenwriter in many projects that were not interesting for him.

Neil Gaiman's work has been highly praised by literary critics and specialists in the field of mythological knowledge. The writer has received several prestigiousawards and gained immense popularity among fans of science fiction and modern literature, which is based on the legends and sagas of various ancient civilizations.

The full version of the book "American Gods" occupies two volumes and several official additions, published separately by the writer, in the form of short stories. The action of which takes place in the same universe.

Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman


Neil Gaiman is a name known to every lover of serious and at the same time fascinating literature, written not for empty entertainment, but for the so-called "play on words", "literary leisure". The full name of the creative person is Neil Richard McKinnon Gaiman, but the writer prefers to use the first name and surname as a creative pseudonym.

In addition to a dazzling literary career, Neil has become famous as a screenwriter, television personality, editor, critic, comic book writer and sci-fi writer.

Perhaps his most famous works are: the book "American Gods", the fairy tale "Stardust", the children's thriller "Coraline", the series of stories "The Story of the Graveyard", as well as the world-famous comic book series about a superhero named Sandman.

During his long literary career, the writer has repeatedly won a huge number of awards, prizes and prizes, such as the Hugo, Nebula, the Bram Stoker Prize and many others. Gaiman is also a recipient of the Newbery Medal.


The author of the book "American Gods" appeared onlight November 10, 1960 in the UK, in the small industrial town of Portsmouth. When young Neil was only five years old, his father decided to move the family to the village of East Ginstead, located far from the capital and we althy regions of the country. Here the parents of the future writer began to engage in religious activities in the center of Scientology. Later, Gaiman himself studied this religious movement a little, in particular, paying attention to Dianetics and political science.

Writer and screenwriter
Writer and screenwriter

Later in numerous interviews, Neil Gaiman, who wrote the book American Gods, repeatedly admitted that he himself is not a Scientologist and never seriously studied the religion of his parents, but his family considers themselves a full-fledged unit of the Scientology society.

Early years

At the age of about twenty, Neil completed work on his debut work - a biography of the once popular band Duran Duran, but no one was interested in this work. At that time, Gaiman worked as a journalist for several local newspapers, interviewed prominent residents of the town, and also collaborated by correspondence with some British magazines.

In the late 1980s, the writer published his first work in the non-fiction genre, dedicated to the famous science fiction writer Douglas Adams and his hit book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Since the early 1990s, Gaiman has been a freelance comic book creator working with several independent publishers.

In 1989, the writercreates his first famous comic book series, The Sandman, which tells the story of Morpheus, the personification of sleep in the form of a man, as well as his friends and amazing adventures.

By the mid-nineties of the last century, as part of the series, it was published:

  • 75 comic book volumes;
  • special author's issue;
  • collection of interviews by Neil Gaiman titled "1989-1996"; the collection is dedicated to the key moments of the work on the series;
  • two cartoon stories;
  • documentary about the making of the series.

All books about the Sandman universe are still very popular and are reprinted in impressive numbers every year.

In 1996, Neil Gaiman enlisted the help of his friend, science fiction writer Ed Kramer, and published the anthology Sandman: A Book of Dreams, which became a collection of stories from other authors set in the universe created by the writer.

Literary career

Later, the writer collaborated with the creators of the Spawn comic, in particular, developing several characters for the universe. Later, this collaboration resulted in lengthy lawsuits for Gaiman.

In 1997, the writer released the fairy tale "Stardust", which won first place in the Mythopoetic Award competition. It was this work that brought Gaiman worldwide fame, and also helped launch a career as a screenwriter.

Ten years after the publication of the fairy tale novel, a film was made, where the writer was involved as a screenwriter and chief consultant.

Long timethe writer was busy in several projects as an editor and creator of various images and plot moves. Almost all of the films based on Gaiman's script were not adaptations of his works, with the exception of the mini-series Nowhere, which became one of the writer's few production works.

Gaiman's screenwriting career includes several works:

  • Doctor Who (two full-length episodes of the series).
  • Beowulf (film directed by Robert Zemeckis).
  • "Babylon 5" (one of the episodes of the series).
  • Mirror Mask (Cartoon).
  • "Coraline in the Land of Nightmare" (cartoon).


Neil Gaiman's book "American Gods" gained worldwide popularity, primarily due to the author's mastery of following the trends of multiculturalism. Mixing elements of ancient American culture, Scandinavian mythology, Eastern philosophical currents and English dogmatism in the universe of the book, the writer created a unique, from a literary point of view, story about a mysterious guy named Shadow.

In 2001, the first book in the American Gods series hit second-hand bookstores and became a real sensation in the world of science fiction lovers.

Due to the influence of the multiculturalism of the novel and the presence of elements of mythology and culture of various nations in it, readers leave only rave reviews about the book "American Gods".

Russian edition
Russian edition

Most of the comments were left by readers on the forum of the writer's own website, onwhich Gaiman posted daily progress reports on the novel, as well as answering various questions. Even after the publication of the novel, the writer continued to communicate with readers through an online diary.

The writer's website contains full detailed information about each of his works, in particular, there is also a detailed description of the book "American Gods". An online guide like this helps fans of the writer's work immediately find out all the necessary information about the work of Neil Gaiman.


Summary of the book "American Gods" is a retelling of the adventures of the protagonist - a guy named Shadow, who, by the will of fate, ends up in prison. The story itself begins from the moment when the Shadow is released ahead of schedule from imprisonment, in which he stayed for quite a long time, sharing a cell with the villain Loki Malicious. Loki taught the young cellmate a lot.

After his release, Shadow immediately goes home, but there he is caught by sad news: his wife and best friend have died. Having lost his relatives, the guy decides to become a hired bodyguard. Soon luck smiles at him, and he becomes the guard of Mr. Wednesday, about whom almost nothing is known, except that he is incredibly rich and almost omnipotent.

After a while, the young guard realizes that Mr. Wednesday is none other than the Norse god Odin. Gradually, an amazing mythological world opens up for the young man, existing in parallel with reality.

All the characters in the book "American Gods" are actuallyare references to the ancient deities and heroes of the legends of various peoples and tribes.

Frame from the series
Frame from the series

America has become a sort of home for fictional entities of a wide variety of cultures and ideologies, with the gods of the Old Age sticking together, and the new, American gods of the new Age, wanting to seize complete domination of the world.

One, the patron and head of the old gods, is forced, in the form of a swindler and businessman, to meet with various gods of the Old Era and collect from them an army capable of repelling the new gods.

The complete American Gods book is divided into two parts, the first of which deals directly with the adventures of the Shadow and the massive Battle of the Gods, and the second consists of several short stories set in the universe described in the first part.

Slowly, Mr. Wednesday comes to trust the young guard and often takes him on dangerous journeys, during which Shadow meets Mr. Anansi, also known as the Black God, and a leprechaun named Sweeney, who gives him a magical gold coin.

Despite Odin's desire to restore justice and the balance of magical forces throughout the world, not all gods agree to join his army. Many of them see the Norse god's new friend as a threat to their former existence, and kidnap the Shadow with the help of the mysterious men in black.

The content of the book "American Gods" is based not only on a combination of a variety of elements from vibrant folk cultures, but also on the dogma of the opposition of Old and New, Good and Evil, Modernityand Antiquity, in which the old and archaic seems good to us, and everything new, progressing only brings lack of spirituality and devastation into the hearts of people.

The old gods for a long time tried to hold back the onslaught of the younger generation, but, unfortunately, they constantly lost to the emerging dominance of progress. The young gods were more successful, quicker, seized huge spheres of influence and gradually forced the ancient deities out of their homes, preferring to turn sacred places into office centers, marketing halls and gym fitness bars.

That is why the new gods are so radically opposed to the old ones, since the final coming of the latter to power will be the end of progress, development and the technogenic era, which is why the old gods prevent Odin from accepting the Shadow, which, in their opinion, is the new god.

A young guard is saved by the goddess Laura, who has risen from the dead. She helps The Shadow take refuge in an abandoned funeral home in Illinois, but later the young man manages to hide in Lakeland and start a new life there under the name of Mike Einsel.

By the way, it is in the description of friendships that the writer is especially strong. Reviews of the American Gods book often contain praise for Neil Gaiman, who masterfully described the Shadow's "new life" in Lakeland, was able to masterfully think through the dialogues and show the reader the very process of the emergence of friendship between the inhabitants of this small town and a stranger from Illinois. It is here that the Shadow begins the simple life of a respectable citizen, making himself the same simple friends - the chatty old man Hinzelman andpolice officer Chad Mulligan. Sometimes the guy travels around the country with Mr. Wednesday and arranges various meetings with the heroes of English and American folklore.

Jesus and Shadow
Jesus and Shadow

Also, the young man observes the supposedly quiet life of Lakeside and soon finds out that every year one child disappears in the city. The timing of Shadow's one trip with Mr. Wednesday coincides with the kidnapping of a little girl, and the guy is sent to jail until the circumstances are clarified.

In prison, the guy almost constantly watches TV, on which there are continuous political debates between the old and new gods. During one of these events, Mr. Wednesday is killed, and the old gods begin to actively prepare for war.

Reviews of the book "American Gods" often contain references to the war, which in Gaiman's books appears not as an ordinary mass brawl, but as a generational conflict that develops into a conflict of eras. Readers especially like the fact that the writer seems to be forcing them to make their own choices.

Mr. Nancy and Chernobog realize their mistake and help Shadow get out of prison and escape in a safe direction.

Grieved by the death of the Allfather, Shadow decides to hang himself on the World Tree and, like Odin, hang there for nine days and nine nights.

During a religious trance, Shadow witnesses the future and the past and realizes that Odin's death was staged by Loki the Malicious and the Allfather himself, so that Odin would gain truly incredible power. The death of the gods in the internecine war would resurrect Odin and give him all the powers of the dead deities.

Shadow gathers his friends and goes to rock city to prevent the battle of the gods by revealing to them all the plan of the Allfather. Laura manages to kill Loki with an ash branch, which she broke off from the World Tree.

Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" is also a great detective story, because the mystery of the missing children has not been solved… Or is it?

After the battle of the gods, Shadow begins to have strange doubts and guesses about old man Hinzelman. The guy arrives in town and searches Hinzelmann's car, in which he finds the corpse of a missing child.

The old man's car is on the ice, and Shadow does not notice how it falls under the ice of the lake, where a cache with the corpses of countless children stored in cars is found. It becomes hard to breathe, it is not possible to return to the surface of the lake: the guy is bound by an ice sheet.

A young man almost suffocates in the icy water, but Hinzelman saves him and admits that he is a kobold - a creature that protects the city from harm and takes one child as a sacrifice every year.

Why are there so many positive reviews for American Gods? Maybe because this book is primarily about good and evil? Maybe because this story tells about the fate of the gods? Yes, they may be gods, but they live among people and feel like people; experience like people; think like people…

Photo session of the writer
Photo session of the writer

How did American Gods end? The plot created by the writer leaves the reader wondering and guessing aboutthe further fate of the protagonist.

After completing the task assigned to him, the Shadow decides to end his life and comes to Chernobog for death, but the black god frees him, and the young man goes to Iceland to talk with the forefather Odin and give him two relics - a leprechaun coin and Mr. Wednesday's glass eye.

At the end of the book, Shadow just walks away from Odin without looking back.


Four years after the publication of the original novel, the writer returns with a long-awaited sequel, describing the adventures of new gods, as well as the adventures of the protagonist.

The Children of Anansi, published by Neil Gaiman in 2005, was not a direct continuation of the saga, but was based on quotes from the book American Gods.

The work tells about the fate of the dark God Anansi and his children, who became new members of the assembly of new gods.

In June 2011, during one of the interviews, the writer admitted that since 2001 he has been nurturing the idea of continuing the novel, on which he began work when writing the first part. No details have been revealed, but Neil Gaiman has hinted at the contents of a forthcoming book that will likely center around the new gods.

In 2016, the writer published a small collection that fans of Neil Gaiman's work considered an unofficial continuation of the book American Gods. The compilation consists of two stories: "Lord of the Mountain Valley" and "Black Dog". Both works have been reprinted several times.other collections of the writer's works.

Some fans of the writer's universe find numerous references to the world of the novel in his subsequent works. Gaiman himself neither confirms nor refutes this information.


The contents of the book "American Gods" significantly excited the reading public. Published in 2001, the book already in the next year, 2002, received a large number of awards and prizes. By the way, some of them have never before been awarded to writers who publish works written in the genre of science fiction.

In 2002, the book was named "Best of 2002" by Locus magazine. The SFX edition nominated the novel for the title of "Book of the Year", and the domestic printed edition "World of Fiction" recognized the novel as "The Work of the Decade".

The writer also received the grand prize of the famous Hugo Award, which is awarded to authors writing books for children, and the Nebula Award, which is an outstanding master of the word, working in the contemporary space fantasy genre.


Reviews of Gaiman's book "American Gods" interested many filmmakers and producers from the world of show business. In 2013, the writer sold the film rights to the book to HBO, which planned to release a series of six seasons (approximately 60-80 episodes lasting 60 minutes each). Representatives of the channel said that the first two seasons will be an adaptation of the writer's work, and the remaining four will be the official continuation of the book, developed in collaboration with the author.original universe.

At the end of 2013, Neil Gaiman announced that due to unforeseen circumstances, HBO refused to produce the series, and in the future the project will be developed by FremantleMedia, which not only bought the rights to the film adaptation of the work in full, but also prepared a dedicated scriptwriting team to completely rework existing script drafts.

In July 2014, the project came under the auspices of media hosting Starz, whose management appointed the legendary Bryan Fuller, who at one time was the exclusive producer of the Hannibal series, in charge of launching the project.

After three years of hard work, the first season of American Gods was released, consisting of eight episodes lasting 60-70 minutes each.

The writer himself was pleased with the series and signed several contracts for further cooperation with the TV channel and adaptation of his other works for the television series format.


Gaiman at the award ceremony
Gaiman at the award ceremony

Since the publication of the work, readers have left predominantly positive feedback on Neil Gaiman's book American Gods.

First of all, the writer managed to captivate readers with an interesting story containing a huge number of historical, cultural and literary references not only to ancient sagas, myths and legends, but also to other literary works, as well as to real events.

Secondly, many of those who have devoted several hours of their lives to a book,I liked the style of her writing. Indeed, Gaiman's language is very specific, diverse in style, highly artistic and pseudo-documentary at the same time, which immediately captivates the reader and gives him a sense of the reality of what is described, a sense of involvement in the conflict and the experiences of the main characters.

Thirdly, the plot of the book "American Gods" is very original. It is safe to say that nothing like this has ever happened in modern literature. Gaiman not only created a completely new, logically based concept of the interaction of worlds, but also competently, interestingly described it, turning it into a unique science fiction novel, which is not only a book for interesting reading, but also an educational "textbook of life".

Fourthly, Gaiman's multiculturalism and tolerance as a writer has become the guarantor of his success in America and Europe. The humanity of the society shown by the writer has become a kind of personification of world humanism and the mystery of the nature of each of the people.

That is why the writer's books are so valued by a thinking society.