There’s a war coming, but it’s not a war in the physical sense–it’s a war between gods–gods brought over from foreign countries, now mainly forgotten as the original immigrants die off. They are stuck here, unable to return to their countries of origin. (why? if they are gods, and there surely must be stronger belief in their countries of origin, then what, exactly, is holding them here? I never figured out the answer to that question.)As memory of them fades, so does their supernatural abilities. Which raises another question–are gods really the product of the human imagination, whose power rests on the strength of their followers’ beliefs? The answer the book seems to give is ‘yes.’ And that question is the book’s biggest weakness, in my opinion. The gods come across as not really gods at all, but fatally flawed superheroes who are more mortal than not-at least the old ones.
The old guard faces war with the new guard–the gods of Media, Celebrity, Technology etc.–of American making. These new gods aren’t much, really. All looks and no substance, but quite capable of violence when it suits their purposes.
There is one being that can save them–a savior, who is still trying to figure out his role in all of this. Once he figures it out, though, the ending is fairly simplistic. Gods can be easily swayed, it turns out-just like people.
American Gods is a good read, albeit a long one. There is a ghost who wants to be alive again, since death is turning out to be one long slog. Shadow–the main protagonist–is caught up in a war he figures out as he goes along. He must also stop watching TV because the characters within the shows begin to talk to him, trying to convince him to switch his allegiance from the old guard to the new, which adds a touch of humor to the book. It is also a book that will make you think as you read.