I read my first Neil Gaiman book this time last year as one of my first reads of 2015, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and the second, Neverwhere, that summer. Both of them possessed qualities I'd expected from Gaiman, having read many reviews of his work and having come to expect that he would become a favourite author of mine. They were weird, magical, dark and twisted, completely fantastical but somehow true-to-life, and a whole host of other things besides. Both of those books, however, somehow fell short of my expectations. They were enjoyable, sure, but they weren't quite it.
Not so with American Gods. This one, for me, was the climax of the Gaiman books I've read and has (probably) already taken its place on my favourites list for this year, maybe even of all time. It's a big book, much bigger than the other two of his I'd read. But as I said on Instagram (join the party over there if you haven't already :D), this book has cured my fear of chunky reads. Despite what felt like slow progress through the 635 pages of this book, I relished every second and felt like I could keep chewing through the story forever.
The vast, sprawling plot and the inventive and fantastical cast of characters felt true to what Neil Gaiman was saying about America itself; namely that it is richly diverse, incomprehensible and unique. There's something about Gaiman's passionate ownership of the land, but also his acknowledgement that it is incapable of being possessed, that speaks from the immigrant experience.
The plot itself builds slowly, gradually increasing tension in a way that was gripping but also made me want to slow down and savour the journey. The twists and turns and final climax were pulled off with finesse, and by the end it had become a story of epic proportions. I also felt like Gaiman achieved a perfect balance of tying up loose plot points, and at the same time leaving things open-ended.
Basically, I just really enjoyed this book. Let me know if you've read it too, and what you thought of it, in the comments below!