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The premise of American Gods is that when people came to this country (United States) they brought their gods with them. Their pagan gods and assimilated them into their lives here, but that over time people have forgotten the old gods and they are being replaced by new gods, gods of technology. If you pay attention while reading, and if you’re familiar with Norse, Greek and Roman mythology and some other lands folk stories, you will recognize some of the gods. The old gods don’t want to be replaced, the new gods want the old gods gone.
Shadow is in prison, he does his time, he keeps his mouth shut and looks forward to leaving prison and going back with his wife. We never learn the whole story of why Shadow is in prison, just that he loves his wife very much. A few days before his release he gets the news that she has been killed in an auto accident. As he travels to home and the funeral he meets up with Mr. Wednesday who hires him and they start driving through America, Mr. Wednesday is a god and he is meeting up with the other gods because there is a storm coming and either the old gods will survive, or the new gods will survive.
This is the main story, but there are many other stories throughout this books. Back stories and side stories, the story of why Shadow went to prison, never fully explained, the story of who Mr. Wednesday’s associates are, the story of Mr. Wednesday and Shadow, and some stories seem to just be thrown in to take up space.
While I enjoyed this book I felt it went on and on. Many of the stories added seemed to be just filler, they didn’t seem to help the story along. In short a good story very masterfully told, Mr. Gaiman takes all the threads he scattered about and brings them together in the end, I just felt the end was too long in coming and there were too many ‘side trips’.