American Gods Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of American Gods

Shadow, a big and tough man enamored of coin tricks, has just finished three years of imprisonment. His wife has just been killed with his best friend, so he has few options and decides to work as a bodyguard and errand runner for a mysterious and powerful character who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. Wednesday takes Shadow all over the U.S., running con jobs, being introduced to gods (old and young, good and sinister, primitive and high-tech), and gradually revealing his true plans to our hero. Many gods who came to this country with their human adherents anywhere from hundreds to ten thousand years before have become weak, disposable, marginal as faith dies or moves on. New gods -- of neon, advertising, covert government operations -- are taking over and a showdown is inevitable. Despite the fantastic elements, this superb novel offers an excellent portrait of America as it is: glances at Midwestern and Southern roadside attractions, a visit to Vegas, and ways of the good folk of Lakeside, Wisconsin (where a clunker car is rolled out on the lake ice every winter and bets placed as to when it will fall through in the spring; and restrooms are labeled "Pointers" and "Setters") are among the best parts of the book. My only problem was that I couldn't help reading it too fast.
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The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

Shadow, upon his release from prison, finds that he has nothing much to go back to - his wife and best friend have died together. Instead, he enters the employment of Wednesday, a mysterious and shadowy figure, a con-man, and a god. Shadow follows Wednesday around America, encountering gods, legends, and mythological beings, all brought to the country by immigrants, all changed by their presence here. Seems, however, that America is hard on gods - the gods are getting ready for a war, a fight to the death for their very existence. Shadow's role is pivotal, and his life willl never be the same.
The review of this Book prepared by Ivy

Shadow, a modern-day ex-con but generally nice guy, gets swept up into events he doesn't understand, involving mysterious people and ancient gods. He travels extensively with "Wednesday" meeting characters of myth and legend. In the end, the fate of the final battle will rest on his shoulders. He accepts all circumstances with equanimity, a wonderful trait in a protagonist. This book is incredible! I read it all in one day, because the story and all its characters were so engaging.
The review of this Book prepared by Archren

Morrow, Jun 2001, 26.00, 432 pp.
ISBN: 0380973650

    Shadow went to prison for beating up two men, but receives parole after three years of doing time. Because he is big and radiates a “don't mess” attitude, Shadow had no problems there. Two days before he is to be freed, the warden informs Shadow that his wife died and he can leave to make proper funeral arrangements. Shadow loved his wife and is rocked by the news.

    When Mr. Wednesday arrives on the scene just before the funeral of Shadow's wife, the grieving ex-con welcomes the craziness that ensues. Mr. Wednesday is actually Odin and with the other ancient gods and mythical creatures walks the earth though no one believes in them anymore. Mr. Wednesday and cohorts are growing weaker and he wants to make one last confrontation for the hearts of Americans.

    Neil Gaiman uses flashbacks to show how leprechauns, Odin, pixies other creatures of myth and legend other came to the New World. They traveled here in the hearts and souls of the immigrants. This pure epic urban fantasy demonstrates why Mr. Gaiman remains the grandmaster of the sub-genre. The Old Ones need people to believe in them again, but doubt they can achieve their noble objective. The climax is incredibly original so that no one will guess what will happen. AMERICAN GODS might prove to be the fantasy tale of 2001 as it is already that of the midpoint.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of American Gods

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 10%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 20%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 40% Tone of book    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   fantasy story on current Earth Magical Beings/Mental/Magical/Powers    -   Yes magical powers:    -   magical powers (general) Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Religious overtones?    -   Yes Cultural problems, alien culture    -   Yes Culture clash-    -   feelings as an alien growing up among humans

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   bodyguard Age:    -   20's-30's If magical mental powers:    -   fire/lightning/weather cntrl


Earth setting:    -   20th century    -   general past    -   during "Tolkien" (fairytime) times    -   current (early 21st century) Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of touching personal anatomy    -   actual description of sex    -   descript. of private male anat. How much dialogue?    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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