Imperfect Gods Make for a (practically) Perfect Story

Ever since I was in elementary school and picked up a copy of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, (it doesn’t matter how old you are, if you haven’t read this you NEED to) I was hooked on the author’s unique ability to tell a beautiful story with subtle hints towards a greater theme that all became tied together in the end.

When I saw a gorgeous hard-bound copy of American Gods by Neil Gaiman at a Friends of the Library book sale, I knew that I had to read it.  American Gods takes you into a world in which ‘gods’ are created through continued worship by groups of people, and depending upon their following, grow more or less powerful.  The book introduces you to gods who came to America following their worshipers, only to be set aside as the years went by due to changing beliefs and the fast spread of technology.  The conflict in the story deals with an ongoing war between the old gods and the "new gods" who embody modern elements such as television and the internet.

Although the concept of the book was amazing, what really made me love and remember the book was the complex set of characters.  Gaiman introduces readers to imperfect gods who, in the recent years with an extreme lack of worshippers, have been doing whatever it takes to survive (including but not limited to, conning humans, butchering, prostitution, and robbing banks).  Unlike a lot of fictional characters, these aren’t idealized, wrapped in a pretty package, or written for the sole purpose of readers to like them.  The characters are complex with fascinating back stories, and the main character (an ex-convict named Shadow) is by no means perfect, but still makes for a great protagonist whose questionable background and actions show that no matter what your past held, you can still rise above and do the right thing.

I would recommend this book to anyone with a love for fantasy and amazing characters who, despite their many flaws, will grow on you and make you become attached.  This book does have many adult themes in it such as violence and sex, so it is geared towards more mature readers.

-Keiko, a (Dusen)Berry Blogger and River Teen Advisory Board member