30 Day Book Challenge: Day Seven

Day Seven: A book that’s hard to read.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (author’s preferred text).

It’s taken me two months to finally give up on this book.
This book is in fact so hard to read, for me, that I’ve shelved it 385 pages into 640.

I’ve decided to shelve it and maybe wait a few years to see if I actually do care enough to find out what happens next (like China Melveille’s Perdido Street Station, which I shelved a mere 20 pages or so from the ending).

Gaiman surely is a talented writer. I’m not criticising him. I admire and respect his imagination and his brain, and his writing is easy to read.

What I don’t like about American Gods is the emotional detachment of the main characters, and that no matter how hard I try, I simply can’t care about any of the characters, or their mission, or the ‘impending storm’ we’re occasionally reminded about.

I also find an alarming lack of detail in some scenes (so many that I can’t even pull and example – it’s completely scattered), and some overwhelmingly detailed descriptions of things I really don’t care about (such as Shadow’s coin tricks – a coin trick is a visual medium, and having to read about them I more often than not skipped over them completely. I haven’t yet found a reason for them being part of the plot).

It’s an interesting premise, but I simply can’t connect to a character that I only figured out wasn’t white 200 pages in. There is a lot of text (600+ pages) but not enough description to make me care. Shadow doesn’t ask questions, and sure I can figure out what’s going on, but I’ve still got a whole bunch of questions such as WHY is this mission so damned important, anyway? And Shadow’s not an inspiring character: he drifts around and does exactly as he’s told, developing an unnaturally strong loyal attachment to a man that doesn’t seem to care about him.

However, I did enjoy all the little short stories between the actual chapters of the book. Gaiman clearly loves this book and did a lot of research for it, which I appreciate. But I haven’t done the same research, and it’s too mysterious exactly who the characters are all the time. I’m reading to be entertained and educated, and I don’t want to go off and educate myself on the minor and uninteresting characters we come across.

BTW I read Stardust, and absolutely loved it. So I’m not Gaiman-bashing: I adore the man. I don’t like this one book.