Big news – I added a whole star since my last reading way back in the day (original rating: 1 star) because it was more amusing this time around.
Verdict – Still probably in my top 5 most overrated books ever.
Here’s the thing. Nothing happens. Gaiman spins an incredibly long yarn that never actually goes anywhere. There’s no character development. The protagonist, Shadow, tragically, was born without a personality. It’s the dullest road trip ever without a destination. Even when there’s death or mystery or whatever, it’s just blah. Except for the shock factor of the man-eating vagina, I guess, which isn’t necessarily a compliment.
The premise feels more like a gimmick than an allegory. “Immigrants to America bring their cultural beliefs and Gods. Over time they’re forgotten and overshadowed by the things America now worships: technology, media, etc. Old Gods vs. New Gods.” That is literally the entire story. An elevator pitch expanded into a 600-page novel.
For a book that Gaiman intended to be “a thriller, and a murder mystery, and a romance, and a road trip,” it is more or less unsuccessful in all those areas.
But it is occasionally amusing. 🙂