I’ve literally had this on my bookshelf, wasting away in TBR limbo, for 2 years. Gods only know why I never got around to reading it until now, because this was a fantastic book that I enjoyed immensely. I’ve always been a fan of Gaiman’s writing, and how it feels grounded and human at the same time as being highly imaginative and whimsical. In American Gods, mythology is weaved with contemporary sociological commentary; it deconstructs belief and non-belief in gods and magic and contrasts that faith against our ‘worship’ of technology, something that seems so tangible and accessible but itself contains elements of the unknown. Each of the gods live in human form, in this story, with the ‘old gods’ becoming weak, irrelevant characters due to vanishingly small numbers of Americans worshipping them. Though we like to think of our reverence of technology as a belief and reliance on something real, with a tangible benefit, Gaiman cleverly constructs ‘new gods’ of technology, also in human form, and posits that our worship of the new gods is as subservient and blind as it ever was.
Shadow’s journey leaves him — and us — with a main takeaway, and that is that anything other than oneself is unpredictable, with its own ever-changing motivations and responses. The problem with obeying any god, old or new, is that god might not be looking out for you, and even if s/he is, s/he might be powerless to really do anything for you. It’s a humanist message, overall. We’re ultimately responsible for ourselves, since what we worship is only as strong as our worship itself, and we’re fickle beasts.