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American Gods

 I have now read American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

So, therefore, I now have the authority to say: Everyone who complained about Hammer of Gods being a rip-off/copy/poor-imitation is completely bonkers.

Four words: Holy Different Universe, Batman!

The ONLY similarity between American Gods and Supernatural is the idea that all gods exist and can appear in human form. Other than that, you're dealing with a whole other kettle of fish.

So, there you go. It only took me half a year, but I can finally have a stance on that argument. :-P

In other news: American Gods was an alright book! Next I'm going to read Anansi Boys.

Also, I'm having a bad day, so don't yell at me if you disagree...just leave it.

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( 43 comments — Leave a comment )
la_mariane
Feb. 7th, 2011 07:29 pm (UTC)
Don't tell me someone thought Spn was an American Gods rip-off! I've read the book (one or two months ago?) and I didn't even think once of SPn while doing it. But now that I think about it, Dean drinving a Winnebago would be LOL-worthy!
hells_half_acre
Feb. 7th, 2011 07:47 pm (UTC)
Specifically they were just talking about Hammer of the Gods...but yeah...after hearing the complaint, I thought it'd be much more similar, but besides the basic concept that gods exist, there wasn't anything at all similar between the two universes.
trystan830
Feb. 7th, 2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
i read American Gods and Anansi Boys... in 2008. i don't remember alllll that much, except to say i totally agree with you. =D
hells_half_acre
Feb. 7th, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC)
:) Yay!
trystan830
Feb. 7th, 2011 07:51 pm (UTC)
=D

also, as for Gaiman - Eric said he loved and read and borrowed from Gaiman.

and as for people who thought the episode was a rip-off? this fandom is crazy, you gotta know this by now....

Edited at 2011-02-07 07:52 pm (UTC)
hells_half_acre
Feb. 7th, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
this fandom is crazy, you gotta know this by now....

It's true. This is why I try to keep to my little non-crazy secluded corner. :P
trystan830
Feb. 7th, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC)
oh i hear you there!
akadougal
Feb. 7th, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
I like Anansi Boys much better, btw.
hells_half_acre
Feb. 7th, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC)
That seems to be the consensus with everyone I talk to. I'm going to start reading it this afternoon :)
jeymien
Feb. 7th, 2011 08:12 pm (UTC)
I always thought of that episode as being an homage to, not a rip off of American Gods. Core ideas were shared.

I totally love that book.
hells_half_acre
Feb. 7th, 2011 08:13 pm (UTC)
Indeed.

It took me a while to get into the book, but by the end I really liked it.
(Deleted comment)
lusciniate
Feb. 7th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC)
Anansi boys were good, but I actually liked American Gods much better (I loved the whole story, loved the characters, language and many little things in the way how author wrote that story. Almost everything. ). So now I can offer one voice against that your "everyone" you talk to. Even if you are not talking to me :)

It seems you are now going through Gaiman books. Have you read/intend to read "Neverwhere"? Or this is just a coincidence that you have two Gaiman's books one after another?

hells_half_acre
Feb. 7th, 2011 08:40 pm (UTC)
Noted! I'm glad you told me - now I'm not expecting Anansi Boys to be better or worse. I was afraid it would get overhyped for me, the way people kept going on about how much they liked it.

This is SORT of a coincidence. I borrow audiobooks from the library, and they had Anansi Boys - but I looked at it's basic info, and it appeared that I should read American Gods first. So, I actually dipped into my pocket and BOUGHT the American Gods audiobook.

So, yes, I'm going through Gaiman books, but it's really just so that I can read Anansi Boys. The selection of audiobooks at the library is sort of slim...and I like authors to be recommended, rather than just trying anyone willy nilly. I knew enough people who liked Gaiman to give him a go. I also tend to like adventure stories, so he seemed a good bet.

So yeah, if you want to recommend other things for me, that'd be cool, and I could see if they have them at the library.
claudiapriscus
Feb. 7th, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
I actually liked Anansi Boys a lot better than American Gods. Maybe it's that I'm not as up on my nordic mythology as everything else, but I was uncharacteristically unable to finish American Gods...at least until I read Anansi Boys and was invested enough in the universe to go back to it.
hells_half_acre
Feb. 7th, 2011 11:40 pm (UTC)
The problem with American Gods is that the protagonist is an inactive participant through 2/3rds or more of it. It makes for a pretty boring time really unless you are somehow otherwise invested. And by inactive participant, I mean that the action unfolds around him, and he doesn't make any decisions for himself or do anything besides what he is told to do...boring.

Now of course, this ends up being a plot/character point, but not even that much of an important one in the grand scheme of things...so, yeah, I think Gaiman could have done a little better to engage the reader in American Gods. But, you know, most people don't take kindly to me criticizing Gaiman (for he is apparently the lord our god) so I just keep my reviews to "It was a good book. I liked it" and leave it at that. :P
claudiapriscus
Feb. 8th, 2011 12:06 am (UTC)
That's a very interesting point. I think you've hit the nail on the head.
hells_half_acre
Feb. 8th, 2011 12:22 am (UTC)
Thanks! Let me know if you know anyone who wants to hire an editor, I need money ;)
lusciniate
Feb. 8th, 2011 01:07 pm (UTC)
Maybe this is another reason for me liking "American Gods " better. "Anansi Boys" were available in my library and since I wasn't at that point sure whether I wanted to buy American Gods (to be able to read it) or not, "Anansi Boys" seemed like a good idea to test Gaiman's writing style for those more adult books. So already knew a bit of the universe when I got into the American Gods. And I read "American Gods" in the original language but the "Anansi Boys" had suffered through rather terrible (imho) translation.

And that Nordic mythology thing - I think I can agree that it might be a little part of the reason why you didn’t like it. I was lucky then, that I knew most of the gods that were in the story or could guess about them from their names (like with the slavic ones).

hells_half_acre
Feb. 8th, 2011 04:15 pm (UTC)
Oh,yeah, I don't read books in translation unless I can't read the original language at all, or unless I've already read them in the original language. (I've got a German copy of Catcher in the Rye that I like) and a German edition of Hamlet (just to be ridiculous)...and the Harry Potter books all in German, because I thought it'd be a fun way to practice.

But yeah, I knew all the nordic Gods, and some of the North American native "gods" (who weren't really gods in this book, but something else). It didn't ruin the reveal, because a lot of the "boring" part of the book, I spent wondering when Loki was going to make another appearance - why he was in prison with Shadow and what part he was going to play...so, yeah, even though I knew the gods, I wasn't sure how they were going to be used - and that is what interested me rather than the fate of the protagonist.
lusciniate
Feb. 8th, 2011 09:53 pm (UTC)
You have an advantage there :) Here in most cases it is easier/cheaper to get the translated version (if is an older book) than to get one in English (which for me then would be that original language I would be able to read). But with the newer ones - I try to get the originals, because the price difference between ordering it online or buying in the bookshop(if it has it, but in most of the cases they dont have those authors >_> )gets more similar. But still - I have to and choose to read for some books the translated versions.
And well sometimes one can get so tired, that reading a book in a foreign language gets too hard even if the book is very interesting and the language isn't no hard..

Oh, Harry Potter.. The first few came out when I didn't know English at all. And the 6th book became my first read book in English. In that time frame between they translated the 5th and the 6th book in Latvian I decided that I wanted to read the 6th one in the original, so I had less than one year to get to that level of text understanding (and it turned out that the best way to get familiar with english and Potter is reading fanfictions). So yeah - I have it in 2 sets now and I think that' s one of the few books I own in more than one language.

You say that you have them in German for practicing - for some times now I am entertaining the idea of getting some of them in Russian for the same reason.
hells_half_acre
Feb. 8th, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC)
Latvia, cool! Did I know that already? I have a friend that's from there.

Anyway, I recommend using Harry Potter books to practice foreign languages - it's fun, and if you already have a copy in your own language, it's convenient. I actually also own the first Harry Potter book in Irish Gaelic - just for fun. I've only ever gotten around to translating the first paragraph, but I had a ton of fun doing it. (I'm kind of a language dork, even though I only really know English and ridiculously rusty German.)

But yeah, I can see how finding books in English might be difficult sometimes. In North America, it's impossible to find books in other language - and it's also impossible to find books that are translated into English FROM other languages. All the translating always goes the other way - like English people don't want to read books from the rest of the world or something...not true! You can get the classics from other countries in English (like certain famous Russian novels) but you can't get anything new.
lusciniate
Feb. 9th, 2011 03:55 pm (UTC)
I think you knew that already, because I did know that you have a friend from here :)

Mhm. And the best part for choosing Potter for this purpose is that it's still very interesting even in the X'th time when you re-read it.

..and it's also impossible to find books that are translated into English FROM other languages.
I hadn't thought about that from this side. That you wouldn't get that much of other European language books that are not originally in English and are not world famous bestsellers (e.g. Millennium series by Stieg Larsson, originally in Swedish). So - thanks for saying that!
hells_half_acre
Feb. 9th, 2011 04:15 pm (UTC)
Yes, I thought I might have known that already. I had a strange sense of deja-vu. :P

But yes, unless a European author is as famous as Larsson, we just don't hear about them, and we certainly don't have access to their books. Maybe eventually that will change - I hope so anyway.
lusciniate
Feb. 9th, 2011 05:28 pm (UTC)
:D

And now I feel sorry for you. I suppose every situation has its drawbacks.

I hope so too :)
lusciniate
Feb. 8th, 2011 01:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, I know. If everyone around you talks about how good something is you start to expect too much. And because of that don’t enjoy the story as much as you could have in a different situation.

Wow. To buy something just because it might be connected to something you want. Usually it is the other way around (except when it’s a previous book in series).
[..] and I like authors to be recommended, rather than just trying anyone willy nilly.
I have now gotten to this point in our foreign language library. Those authors I knew I have read or don’t want to read, those I want – they don’t have. So now I'm choosing books like a kid – judging from their covers (is it an old book but rarely read before me or it is a well read book; by its colors and title, avoiding certain genres I dislike). And sometimes this way it is possible to discover unknown gems. But that’s not the topic here.

As for other books – “Good Omens” another book that has been mentioned way too many times in connection with Supernatural. But I think you might have already read it. But it’s too hard to recommend something for others. It’s hard even if the person is your closest friend. But as (I think) you know – one of the easiest ways to go is the same way as when you go through fanfiction authors. If you like one of them – checking what are their favorites. Good authors usually don’t fall in love with not that great stories :)

And lastly a bit more about “American Gods”:

It’s been mentioned that book was rather slow at time. Now I think that I avoided all those “slow” times in the story because I read that book only while traveling, so I had 30 min periods on the train when I could read it. And that’s not enough of time to get bored by something. There you have no distractions – so you don’t notice some of the flaws.

In reply to claudiapriscus you wrote The problem with American Gods is that the protagonist is an inactive participant through 2/3rds or more of it. It makes for a pretty boring time really unless you are somehow otherwise invested.
For the first part I can agree that on one side the book might had been more fun, if Shadow had had taken bigger part in the events around him and hadn’t gone so much with the flow. But after I accepted that this is the way it is going to be – it became okay. On the other hand – this book read like a story about the Gods. A story where the Gods are actually more important at times than everything else, that they are the main characters. But Shadow was just someone that we could identify as readers with. Someone who knew most of the times just as much as we (readers), someone who didn’t know the rules of the game (again same as us).

But (if I look at all that logically and try to not get defensive:) ) - yes, I can see why so many people would want to have a more active protagonist. Especially in story like this one.

~
When I read your reply in the morning I had something I wanted to say, but now I can't remember what it was. Probably should make notes on a piece of paper if I don't have the time to reply :)
hells_half_acre
Feb. 8th, 2011 04:29 pm (UTC)
Well, I probably wouldn't have bought it if I hadn't needed a lot to "read" for a three week period. I knew I needed as many audiobooks as I could get, and that one was a nice long one and was sort of a prequel to another good-length one...so, yeah, it seemed like a good investment to me. 1.5 hours of salary for the ability to suffer through earning 20 hours of salary, plus another 10 when I read Anansi Boys.

Sadly, my library doesn't have Good Omens in audiobook :( I'll keep it in mind though if I want to purchase again. But yeah, I understand - it's extremely hard to recommend things to people. But that's a good tip about seeing who your favorite authors like!

Yes, I also just accepted that Shadow was going to be inactive and it HAD to be a plot-point at some moment in the book, so I just kept reading in the hopes of discovering when and why...it wasn't THAT great of a pay-off though, so I think Gaiman could have written it just a little differently. There is a way you can write someone as obedient and non-questioning, and still make it look like they are actively being so and (in Shadow's case) living their life as though dead. I mean, even when he finally made a decision himself that he felt good about, it was still following Wednesday's orders.

I mean, yes, this is a book about Gods, and Shadow (no matter how large) is just a child to them - but it's hard to connect to someone who isn't active - or at least, it is for me.

But yeah, it was a good story, and that's an EXTREMELY minor nitpick. I mean, it's so minor, it's not even really worth mentioning. The universe itself is well crafted, and the the inactivity of the protagonist IS a plot-point, and no matter how minor that plot-point is, it still justifies the decision...and really, in this day and age, we should be able to stick with a book longer than 4 chapters to give it a chance. It's a good story!

:)
lusciniate
Feb. 8th, 2011 10:21 pm (UTC)
Maybe I should have replied to both of your comments in one reply. So - sorry for that, but I thought about this option only just now.

Actually that recommending thing is a bit easier with books (which is already terribly hard), the hardest one for recommendation are theatre plays. Because if in the books you can trust the genre then in theatre every play is different from the another even if they claim that they are from the same genre. That one is too individual and people somehow tend to take disliking a theatre play more personally (and look for someone to blame: theatre, writer, director and in the worst cases even the actors) than disliking a book. And I have no idea why it is this way.

..it was still following Wednesday's orders.. And this reminds me of a part of one discussion that the actors had one stage this evening (they were quoting some smart, probably already dead, guys). And they talked how "free will" actually doesn't exist in its most widest way of understanding. And they gave an example:
"You go in the mall and see that today there are 5 different types of beer. You can choose which one you want. But actually someone else has made the choice for you, when they chose which 5 types will be in that shop."
So that even when you think that you use your free will, you actually just have the chance to choose from some already decided options.

:D you didn't have to defend yourself about that point. I was okay with you not liking it that much :)
galwithglasses
Feb. 7th, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC)
There is a pretty good gen crossover fic with American Gods and Supernatural Dust in the Wind by lyra_wing
hells_half_acre
Feb. 7th, 2011 09:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'll check it out sometime :)
claudiapriscus
Feb. 7th, 2011 11:32 pm (UTC)
That was crazy. The ones that bugged me the most were the complaints that it wasn't ENOUGH like American Gods...you know, the ones that assumed that the supernatural 'verse HAD to conform to the same rules (e.g. believers = strength of the god, versions of the gods in each country) or all the fic that 'fixed' it so that it conformed with American Gods. I don't mind crossovers, but they weren't meant as crossovers. It was just kind of weird.
hells_half_acre
Feb. 7th, 2011 11:37 pm (UTC)
Oh man, yeah...that's ridiculous! It's like people complaining that the gods ate humans - um, this is Supernatural, everything non-human seems to eat/kill humans. This is ITS OWN UNIVERSE!

Sigh, anyway...yeah, people are crazy.
khek
Feb. 8th, 2011 02:06 am (UTC)
I had a really hard time getting into American Gods, to the point that I listened to it on CD in the car, rather than reading it. I really liked Anansi Boys much more.

There are so many books that have gods running around...there's no way that Supernatural did anything other than be motivated by similar sources. It all goes back to the popularity of mythology. (and Gaiman has said that he was inspired by other author's books...he's even dedicated most of his works to other authors.)
hells_half_acre
Feb. 8th, 2011 02:16 am (UTC)
Yeah, I think I probably couldn't have finished it if I hadn't been listening to it on audiobook while I worked.

And indeed, neither Supernatural nor Gaiman have the monopoly on modern stories of gods :P

mymuseandi
Feb. 8th, 2011 02:32 am (UTC)
The only Neil Gaiman books i've read completely are Coraline and Wolves in the Walls. They are both children's books! LOL

I do want to start reading his adult books, but never seem to get around to it.
hells_half_acre
Feb. 8th, 2011 03:05 am (UTC)
It's funny, I read kids books until I was around 13/14 and then I switched to adult novels...until I was last year and then I started reading "kids" books again. :P

Read what makes you happy! It doesn't matter what demographic it's meant for!
focaccina
Feb. 8th, 2011 04:01 am (UTC)
I never really finished the book... (I went through my brother's copy when I was staying over during a short break at his apartment, when he was in uni) and as much as I like Gaiman, I just couldn't get into it...

But no, just because they have similarities =/= they are the same thing.
hells_half_acre
Feb. 8th, 2011 04:06 am (UTC)
Yes, as I told claudiapriscus above, the problem with American Gods is that it has an inactive participant - he experiences the story passively, never making his own decisions or performing independent actions until nearly the end - although this was supposed to be a character point, the problem is that it makes it VERY hard for the reader to get involved in the story, or to feel excitement, or anything really...if your protagonist is inactive, your story will feel boring even if there is a lot going on.

I think Gaiman could have made the same character choice but written it a little differently so that the story was more engaging at the beginning. I think if I had tried to read the book, I wouldn't have made it through - it was only because it was the only thing I had to listen to while I worked that I was able to get to the point in the story where it actually becomes engaging.

But yeah...anyway...there's my storytelling-tip for the day.
focaccina
Feb. 8th, 2011 04:23 am (UTC)
if your protagonist is inactive, your story will feel boring even if there is a lot going on.

That's very true.

Hmm, I think I'll follow your example and get the audiobook of it :)
hells_half_acre
Feb. 8th, 2011 04:26 am (UTC)
I just noticed I said "participant" instead of protagonist at one point in that comment...I am not very on the ball. It is because I was eating pizza while I typed.

But yes! The audiobook is quite good! I got it from audible.com, but I found it a little expensive...but then again, I find everything expensive.
msninacat
Feb. 8th, 2011 05:22 am (UTC)
I am with you on that. It's well known that Kripke freely admits the things he was influenced by. The key word here is influenced. He wasn't trying to completely incorporate things exactly as they are. I know he's said he was influenced by Gaiman. You can't look at Crowley and not see that but the idiocy over that episode drives me insane. And not just the American Gods wank. I'll just keep liking the book and be smart enough to realize that the show is the show and the book is the book. Anansi Boys is good also. It's a bit different tone wise from American Gods but still a good read. I hope tomorrow is better for you!
hells_half_acre
Feb. 8th, 2011 05:30 am (UTC)
Thank you! I think part of my problem today was that I didn't get very much sleep last night...it's never a good thing.

I agree with everything you just said. There's a difference between being influenced (or playing homage) and "ripping off" and Kripke was certainly the former and not at all guilty of the latter.

But yes, the wank around that episode, even American Gods aside, is ridiculous :P But yes, no matter how many crossovers people write, the book is the book and the show is the show and never the twain shall meet.

I'm looking forward to Anansi Boys! I was supposed to start it this afternoon, but something came up. So, I'm starting it tomorrow instead. It's only ~10 hours (American Gods was ~20), so I'm hoping to be finished it by Thursday when it has to go back to the library.
msninacat
Feb. 8th, 2011 05:57 am (UTC)
I feel your pain. I work third and no matter how long you do it, your body NEVER adjusts. This week I've managed to get way less sleep that I need. I'm surprised I'm able to type at this point, lol.

Kripke was very open that he was doing homages to all the stuff he liked when he was creating the SPN universe. I think in paying tribute to all that stuff he accidentally created something unique in it's own right. /random rambling.

I've read some amazing xovers of the two but it was from people who respected the show and book as two different things and were respectful to blend them like that. So I'm cool with them meeting like that but if you're gonna shove one in the other and say they are the same, that's not gonna fly with me.

It was a faster read for me than American Gods for me so I think you should be able to make it. I hope you get some rest and feel better!
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