Normally I’m a pretty fast reader. Ask anyone who knows me. I completed two Game of Thrones books in a weekend, the entire Harry Potter Series over four days and both The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings within a week and that is a long book. This was only 600+ pages. For me, that is child’s play but, I took my time with this book. Not because I love it more than some of my favourite series, or because I absolutely hated it. I took my time with this book because from the very first page I realised, this book needs to be read slowly, re-read and savoured.
*Disclaimer- the book is completely different to what I have seen of the show*
Firstly, I am going to talk about the overall story, then the characters and finally recommend ten times over that this is a book you should all read.
I did not see the story ending how it did. It was magnificent. With some books, the ending has a twist but then it isn’t explained, or it comes too late in the book instead of building from the beginning, or the twist is so damn predictable you could have written a better ending. And those are the most disappointing kind. I won’t tell you how the book ends because that would ruin the surprise for anyone reading it however, I just had to begin with the ending because as you can see I’m still in a state of shock and awe.
The book begins with Shadow facing a personal tragedy resulting in his early prison release. What the follows is mystery, action, adventure, myths and legends coming to life, a little bit of love, family, betrayal and renewal. And most of the time, these kind of books aren’t good because there are just too many elements however, Neil Gaiman is a magician and has managed to sow these elements together to create a wonderfully, original story wherein you don’t always realise a new clue to the overall mystery has been identified within the story. Furthermore, the characters as there are so many names and descriptions to remember all bring an individual piece of the puzzle with them. Some openly know what bearing their knowledge has whilst others simply trade on it assuming it useless to Shadow.
So, with all those characters I’ll rattle off the few which stuck in my head.
Shadow- We discover the mystery through him, and only when he finally understands a part of the puzzle then so does the audience. Lost and angry, Shadow is the key to the whole picture with obstacles always thrown in his direction whilst grieving for his wife and friend. He is every gods pawn until he realises the true power he holds. Your classic protagonist who is rough around the edges and broken deals with identity issues stemming to his childhood. Overall an amazingly complex character who is great to follow within the story and provides the reader with a relatively normal character to follow the story through.
Wednesday- A man in disguise. A mystery. A scared god who uses Shadow to complete his true plan. However, you constantly get the feeling he is trying to tell Shadow all along who he is and what he needs. Wednesday demonstrates that the biggest conman in the world are the gods within this story, they’ve lost themselves and stooped to the level of humans (a travesty to them) to survive. He just admits this fear. He plays the bad guy trying to be the good guy. Or does he?
Low Key- I never actually got this until the end. A very good ploy by the author to disguise one of the many antagonists in plain sight. Introduced to this character as Shadow’s mentor in prison, the man who helped him cope and gave pearls of wisdom to him, it is hard to understand how I missed his true godly identity. It was smacking over the head the entire time. This is why I love this character because you think someone so minor was just to set up the story but, instead he plays a major role. The author brilliantly hid this character till the perfect time for which he revealed himself cementing the entire con.
This is just a small taste of the book but I recommend you all pick it up and give it a go. Without trying to give too much away, I hope I’ve told you why I love this book. And I’ll say it again; there is shock and awe, the characters are brilliantly written and developed and you never understand the full picture of the book till the end. This is because the author wants it like this to pull in the audience. It is definitely worth the read.
Read it! Read it! Read it! Read it! Read it! Read it! Read it! Read it! Read it! Read it!