Mar

2

Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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“Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered.”

A week before Shadow was to be released from prison, the warden tells him he will be turned out early. His wife is dead. On the flight home, he happens to sit next to a mysterious one-eyed man who calls himself Wednesday. Wednesday recruits Shadow to work for him, except this will be no ordinary job; Wednesday tells Shadow that Gods are real. Gods of old. New Gods. Norse Gods, Hindu Gods, African Gods, Gods that have long been forgotten, and Gods that are being forged everyday from mankind’s ever-changing obsessions and beliefs. But Gods are real. And the Old Gods and New Gods are about to go to war.

Not sure whAmerican Gods by Neil Gaimanat to believe or not believe, Shadow gets sucked into a secret world within our world. One where Gods are not nearly as perfect as they should be, and the people are even less so. And caught between the warring faction is Shadow, wanted by both sides for reasons he does not know.

American Gods is not Gaiman’s first novel, but is almost certainly the one he is best known for, along with his graphic novels, The Sandman. I admit, I have never read any of Gaiman’s other works. I once bought a collection of his short stories, called Smoke and Mirrors, which I read very briefly before turning to other books that better held my interest. Suffice to say, then, that I didn’t go into the book with a ton of giddy excitement, despite the critical acclaim I am well aware the book received. Because of that, it should have been rather easy for Gaiman to pleasantly surprise me.

He didn’t.

I found the book a chore to get through. I can admit that the writing was quite good, and Gaiman’s prose is quite poetic and full of metaphors. But it’s too poetic and has too many metaphors. Perhaps I am just dense and simplistic, but I find it hard to read a novel that spends this much time trying to be subtle. Some of that effort, I think, should have given to making the novel more engrossing.

There were parts that I liked. I like the basic idea of the “New Gods,” essentially anything from the modern era that the masses cling to and ‘believe’ in has created a ‘god.’ So we have gods of technology, gods of media, gods of cars, etc. And I like how the Old Gods – the traditional gods, such as Odin, Kali, and others – are shown to be growing weaker and are dying out because not enough people believe in them. I also like how Gaiman skillfully weaves in a wide variety of gods, both well-known and lesser-known, into the plot’s narrative. The premise, then, is solid. So what isn’t?

For me, the main problem is Shadow. As a protagonist, I found him to be exceedingly dull. There is really nothing interesting at all about him, and nor does he seem to actually do anything. Rather, things just happen to and around him. He is neither likable nor dis-likable, neither a hero nor a villain, not great but not terrible. He’s just… there. And considering the entire novel (except a handful of passages) are from his point-of-view, that is a problem.

Another big problem… I don’t quite know how to put this best, but nothing happens in the book. It seems the entire novel is one big (and slow) build-up to something that turns out to be inconsequential. It’s one of those novels you read once in a while that, once you are done with them, just makes you wonder, “what was the point?”

I had another problem with the book. Or rather, it is less a problem with what is in the book and more of a problem with an omission. In a novel that is called American Gods, and features all manner of deities, there was a rather glaring omission of Jesus Christ. Or, indeed, anyone from one of the three main Abrahamic religions. Since Jesus so clearly plays a large part in modern religion in America, I can only assume that Gaiman excluded him because he felt intimidated by the idea of offending the masses. Perhaps he, himself, was offended by the thought? In the version I read, which was the “Author’s Preferred Text,” Gaiman does include a brief chapter after the epilogue, one that was apparently cut out of the final novel. The chapter wasn’t impressive. So maybe the reason Gaiman made the omission is because he simply didn’t know how to include Jesus in a way that was interesting.

The novel has a bit of a twist ending, if you can call it that. Is it still a twist if I don’t care what happens?

In the end, I was glad when I finished it for the sole reasons that I can now read something else. Sorry, Mr. Gaiman. You have a ton of awards and acclaim thrown at this book. So you should have no regrets. For me, I will give the book a whimpering 2.5/5.

 

Review by Afa



Feb

17

Half an Interview

Posted by: Jon Snow in

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I recently interviewed Joe Abercrombie, and it was totally awesome. I was crazy excited for weeks. I read both his AMA’s from top to bottom and read through pretty much all of his previous interviews to make sure I didn’t ask boring questions. I also read sooo many blogs about conducting an interview and even went to shop for a recorder (which btw, so over priced) and all that reading did me little good when I didn’t turn my phone to flight mode while recording the interview (great free recording apps out there), so … that was a thing.

I saw the interview when Matt Staggs interviews Joe. Joe was being mean, in jest I was hoping, but this made me even more nervous. Turns out there was no need to be nervous. Joe was a total gentleman, cracked jokes liked I had hoped and answers questions really thoughtfully. Plus he let me take a photo with him and signed a huge A3 poster of himself for all the people who wouldn’t be able to see him in person (because they weren’t able or would run away crying :P ).

If you want you can listen to the audio, here are some reasons you should struggle through my fan girl laughs and nervousness:

Exclusive scoop! Joe shares his beauty secrets!
L3gacy gets his whiskey question answered and Joe gives some recs
Will Joe write Sci fi?? Listen in for his answer! (7 mins in ish)
Joe gets a bit deep talking about his character (and I ask the most awkward question that was posed on the forums [no thanks to you l3gacy for that one])
Joe throws down to our superb master tweeter
Is an author collaboration in the future? (19 mins)
The missing paragraph from Half the World, the one that was taken out! Hear all about it here! (still not sure if he was kidding, he looked dead serious)
Hear all about Joe’s indecent author’s proposal! (ooowooo)
Want to know WHO is in some of the short stories he has been writing? (28 mins in)
Want to know Danica’s ring tone, you’ll hear it here! Don’t bother to tease me, i’ll own it!
Last minute and a half we discuss the gifts I bought, vegemite and I float my own indecent author proposal.

That is it!

Not really sorry for the crappy audio quality or my girly laughs, you get to hear him talk and joke and tell you some funny stories and that should be enough!

By Danica



Feb

6

Review: Half The World

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I think Abercrombie has done it again. This is another great book, right up there with Before They Are Hanged and The Heroes. The sequel to Half a King, Half The World is entertaining, funny, frustrating and full of little twists and turns. What is the most genius about this book is that while Father Yarvi takes a back seat in the book, he has his hand in everything and some could say that he “is” the main character.

Half the World mostly revolves around two characters, Brand and Thorn, two young teens wanting to become a Warriors of Gettland but both ultimately failing in different ways. Father Yarvi then proceeds to pluck them both out of thin air and takes them on a journey to help Gettland gather allies in the coming war. On their journey they will endure many hardships, and those hardships bond men (and women) closer together.

What I really like about this book is that Abercrombie is able to move away from what he is perceived to be known for, grimdark books. While there is violence and war as typical of most fantasy books, he has matured as a published author and woven an intriguing tale. I really liked the interactions between the two main characters Brand and Thorn. I would say that they both act like rash teenagers who think they know everything about the world, yet trip over everything they do because of their arrogance. While readers like myself usually, like my characters grey, these two are of the straight and narrow, but the different is, Brand and Thorn are like Yin and Yang, and both of them together help complete the grey character they I desire.

World building is something that Abercrombie still needs to refine, as I feel everything is always centred around the characters at hand and not much else. Places are mentioned but it is hard to imagine without aids like maps. However, his characterisation makes up for the lack of that. There were many favourites scenes in the book, but I love the subtle hints that he gives through the books, they are semi-obvious but it helps to build up to the ending. And the ending is great, I love how from 1 chapter your minds goes to “oh no” to “hahaha what a dumb girl”.

If you haven’t picked up this series, then I would recommend it, as the last of the trilogy also comes out in July. Half a War will be amazing. I’m hoping for something Gemmell like with Abercrombie’s brush all over this masterpiece.