It's appropriate that a writer who came to this country as an adult should attempt to forge a new mythology for his adopted homeland. One of the dominant myths of the U.S.
American Mythology?Ancient mythology meets American continentI was actually introduced to Neil Gaiman by a friend who shares my tastes in reading. He knows that I prefer something with a little more meat to the story, and a whole lot less fluff. The more predictable the story, the less inclined I am to enjoy it. Which is where this book entered one of our discussions that we have regularly, in order to share book recommendations. That said — on to the book review.
Does a god loose his power and influence over mankind, once they are forgotten and forsaken by their worshipers? And if so, what happens to those gods when they finally reach this point in the never ending march towards logic and intelligence over superstition and belief? And, what happened to all of those gods who found themselves in the position of a much more mobile society, and their worshipers started immigrating to other locations — namely the Americas?
This book is one that I found to be truly unique in that Mr. Gaiman has demonstrated a real gift for creativity. Not only has he combined every mythological and spiritual connotation of God — but he has brought it all into one cohesive story. But what I found particularly interested in this story is the intermingling of the different belief systems across the spectrum. It is very unusual to come across a story that will intermingle so many different ideologies — successfully. And be able to tell it without creating conflicting responses from offended readers.
This story really gives you a great appreciation for the vast depth and scope of the religious beliefs around the world. And at the same time asks some challenging questions about the development of religious beliefs over the years, and the decline in those beliefs as society advances more towards a touch and feel community, and farther away from the faith based society. This book is also great for pointing out the dramatic struggle that is going on over the gulf between the religious communities and the “scientific” ones. And while it doesn’t come out and declare that there is an open battle between the camps of creationists, and the camps of the Darwinists — it does have an interesting approach to the anthropomorphization of the gods.
The gods manifestations in these books are characterized by the different vices, and physical traits that are so familiar to men, but are now demonstrated in the hands of the gods. Similar to the old Greek and Roman gods — but the gods actually live among men, have homes, lives, and struggle to survive in a world that is rapidly killing them through unbelief. And yet this is presented in the form of a great story that keeps the reader involved, and guessing right through to the end.
Another thing that I liked about this story is the characterization of all the characters. They were real and full, and it provides a great insight into what it was like to believe during the time of the old Greek and Roman mythology eras, when the gods were petty and spiteful, and ruled Earth, and the lives of men according to their own whims. The had interaction with men, and the were constantly manipulating the physical world to their own ends.
This is an interesting book to read — though in some aspects it is a little out there. It borders on the line between general fiction, and fantasy fiction, and makes for an interesting reading experience.