This was a pretty good book. The premise is that all the gods that people have ever worshipped still exist, yet fade away and become weak as their people forget them. There’s this guy named “Shadow” who is just out prison and gets sucked into a war that’s brewing between the old gods—Odin, Kali, and a number that I’d never heard of—and the new gods—Media (who has that perfect hair and makeup of an anchorwoman), Technology (who’s a fat teenager with acne and no social graces), and all the gods of the things we modern people “worship”. One my favorite of the new gods are the automobile gods (though they are only mentioned once and in passing) who, it’s mentioned with a dose of black humor, have more sacrifices in their name per year than any of the old gods ever did.
The plot weaves in and out of reality, dream sequences and otherworldly representations of the world (backstage, they call it), and you (not to mention the main character) are never quite sure what is real and what is imagined.
But in the end things start to take shape and everything makes sense. Or, more accurately, things make more sense than they did previously. The ending ties up all the loose ends nicely, I thought, with both an epilogue and a postscript.
I liked this book—it was a real page turner and it had interesting ideas and a unique story line. The characters were interesting and never flat, and even the evil ones were generally likeable—most of them you could even feel sympathetic towards. Yet, strangely, most of the gods obtain their power through sacrifice—either human or animal, and that should have made them monstrous. I think this is a testament to Neil Gaiman’s characterization talent.