Sunday, July 9, 2017

American Gods - Book/TV Review & Comparison

Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: ★★★


Synopsis: Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life. But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow's best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself. Life as Wednesday's bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. Soon Shadow learns that the past never dies...and that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing - an epic war for the very soul of America - and that he is standing squarely in its path.

My Thoughts: Let me start by saying that I am aware and in agreement with the importance and significance of this book in today's culture. This is a book ahead of it's time (in terms of acceptance and its outspokenness) and has been an iconic piece of literature since its release in 2001. Neil's writing is poetic and beautiful and he writes about topics that are important to discuss. The discussions of religion, sexuality, and the clash of old/new ways of life are more prevalent and profound than they would have been in 2001 when the novel was released.

However, I really struggled to get into this book. There is A LOT going on in this book, with there being several occasions in which I asked myself "how does this random story connect to the bigger picture?". The first half of the book seemed to be more consistent and coherent, and I honestly enjoyed it very much. It is in the second half is where I ultimately lost 80% of my interest. The plot became random and the writing became so descriptive that I found myself skimming to get to the next plot point. I really wanted to love this book, and I thought it had all the potential... I just believe that the book could benefit from another review to tighten the story and cut any unnecessary bits. I do believe in the future (now having seen the first season of the TV adaptation) I could reread this book and see it in a whole other light. For now though... I liked American Gods, but I didn't love it 😖.
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Network: Starz

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 
★★★

Synopsis: See above

My Thoughts: I went into this show with so much excitement. I am a long time follower of Bryan Fuller's work and a lot of the actors in this show. The concept I find to be so interesting and I think it provides a lot of important topics for discussion. However, I think I am going to be in the minority with my opinions about this show. For a show whose first season consisted only of eight episodes, I found it to be a little slow and kind of confusing. I understood a little bit more how the story was connecting and where they were going towards the last four episodes, but I felt very much like Shadow did for the majority of my time watching. 

I think there is a reoccurring problem that exists in TV nowadays. We live in a time where there is just so much content, there is a constant fight to be creative and to push the limits more. American Gods struggled with these same problems. The show relied on easter eggs and imagery and didn't provide enough actual context and explanation. How was this allowed? Did no one watch and think that there was some wiggle room to actually explain what the hell was going on before premiering for viewers? Even as someone who read the book and had a bit more knowledge of what the plot was, I was still lost half of the time. With all the being said, American Gods had some great things too and I think there is the potential to grow and be great next season. The entire cast was incredible, particularly Ian McShane and Pablo Schreiber. There were episodes without each of them and I always found myself missing their characters. And let's talk about the cinematography and the music. I have watched Fuller's other shows Hannibal and Pushing Daisies and I have come to notice and LOVE his style. It it so unique! The music is orchestral and shocking... the visuals are grotesque yet beautiful... I simply can't get enough of it!

As an adaptation, I think that this show is very true to the books. However, a lot of the problems that I had with the book, I still found that I had with the TV adaptation. I also heard that Fuller has a five season plan for the book and I personally think that is too much content. If I thought the first season was slow, I can only imagine that the remaining seasons will be as well. I hope that this will not be the case because I really want to like this show. Both the novel and the TV adaptation seem to mean so much to people. I hear nothing but praise... to the point where I question whether I am just missing the point. I have to remind myself that not everyone can love the same things. I still look forward to season two and will be tuning in... fingers crossed!

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