Dark as Night, Sweet as Sin

Book review of… oh, who am I kidding? Opinion piece of: American Gods, a novel by Neil GaimanAmerican Gods cover

It’s an old book, I just noticed. From 2001. Funny. When did 2001 become over a decade ago?

American Gods is, by all means, not a bad book. No, far from it. It’s a terrific book, exemplary. But still, it has this… bad, no, not bad. A certain kind of vibe.

American Gods is, by all means, not a bad book. Neither is it a good book. Frankly with something like this one, the notion of good book or bad book just get thrown out of the window.  It is a terrible, horrific, beautiful little piece of something awful, which I will still take with me to my bed and regret doing it all the same.

The story begins like this: Shadow is a man with a past. He’s been to jail, and when he was about to leave, he learned that the only bright point at the end of that dark tunnel is dead. On his trip home, he met a con man who call himself Mr. Wednesday, who seems to know a lot about him, and offered him a job as his bodyguard.

Mr. Wednesday was a god, one of many gods in America, who was taken to the land by the mind of travellers, immigrants, and settlers who crossed the oceans to the continent.

But they’re old, weak, forgotten even by their own people, who are mostly dead anyway. And new gods has risen, carried by the mind of today’s people.

Oh, but the story is big. Many things happened as Shadow travelled the continent under the old god’s whim. There was a storm, a war. He met people, gods, war heroes who might be familiar to myth connoisseurs out there. There was conflict and chaos, comfort and moments of clarity. It’s not all the big picture, it’s not all just the small detail.

Its story is simple, actually. Good. Great. But at the end it feels like it’s trying to screw my minds. It’s complicated, weaved around with little things and those small wonders that life has to offer to Shadow. Not a bad thing, not at all.

It’s setting: Modern and familiar, yet fantastic and surreal. Completely mythical and unbelievable, yet it will make you believe every word, despite your best efforts. There was something about it that’s “darkly sad, but surreal enough almost to be funny.|”

Its narration is good, and it paces well. But there’s something about it that’s missing. With so many things going on, and will happen, and has happened, you can only do so much with the narration while keeping its size sane. Reading it, it always feels like missing opportunities. Ultimately, like the author is trying to rush through things. Not necessarily a bad thing, and its objective nature gives the narration an unfazed feeling, in front of all the story’s craziness, which fits the main character perfectly. On the other hand, the rush gives a feeling of… hallucinogenic.

It’s really a good book. A great book. It tells you about life. It shows a certain degree of humanity and emotions that only shows up in the best of stories. But there’s a… sinister vibe to it. Not the eat-your-soul kind of addicting pages-flipping books. No… more like…

You’ll read it. You’ll fell in love with it. And then, on occasion, you’ll feel disgusted by it. You can drop it, and you will continue reading it. You’ll keep reading. You’ll spend a whole night reading ’till the end. And then, at the end, you’ll regret having anything to do with it. You’ll drop it then, leave it in the back end of your shelf, but can’t for the love of anything forget about it. Not because it crept back at you, but because you don’t want to.

Or maybe that’s just me.

I’d suggest this book. I won’t suggest. It will burn your mind. It will make you a better person, or worse.

I guess I’m not entirely sure what I think of it. It’s not bad, though. But neither is it good. If I have to, I’ll rate it π/5.

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