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American Gods

            Don’t tell Harry Potter this, but American Gods is my favorite book. This is the book that I suggest when people ask me what book they should read. Neil Gaiman is an English author who writes about America better than anyone else. In American Gods he takes you all over America and captures the magic and mysticism of the US. It’s almost impossible to describe what the story is about without telling you the whole damn story. Imagine a road trip/mystery novel involving fighting gods and a quiet protagonist with a thing for coin tricks and that’s American Gods. It’s quite an experience.

            There’s this big guy named Shadow who gets out of prison and his life is in shambles. He has no job, his wife is dead, and he has nowhere to go. A mysterious stranger (it’s always a mysterious stranger) offers Shadow a job. And Shadow accepts and finds himself in the middle of a war between gods. There are old gods from Norse and Egyptian and Christian beliefs and there are new gods, gods of TV, technology, and drugs. Gods exist because people believe in them, they get their power from sacrifices made in their honor, whether you sacrifice your time, money, perform a ritual, whatever. Shadow and his boss go all around the US, from small towns to big cities and all the sacred places in between. He even has sex with a cat lady at one point, if you like that kind of thing.

            If that sounds interesting at all then should definitely read this book. And if you want to read it, then you might as well go ahead and buy it because you’re going to reread it. This is a really good book and you deserve good things in your life.

            Critically Rated at 17/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere

Neverwhere was a BBC show that Neil Gaiman wrote and later adapted into a novel, which later got adapted into a comic book. Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere is a comic adaptation of the novel. Gaiman wrote the novel, but Mike Carey wrote the comic with Glenn Fabry providing the art. It’s the story of Richard Mayhew, a regular guy with a regular life, who helps out a mysterious stranger and discovers the mysterious world of London Below.

Richard Mayhew has a boring job and a bossy fiancée. He can’t make any decisions for himself, that’s her job. The only time he defies her is to help hurt woman in the street. The hurt woman isn’t exactly from around here, she comes from London Below. The best way to describe London Below is that it’s made up of pieces from our world that got lost or went missing. That’s not a good way to describe it, but it is the best way.

The hurt woman is named Door, and she’s in trouble. Her family has been murdered, she has two assassins tracking her down, and she needs help. Richard helps her find the Marquis de Carabas, and he helps Door escape from the assassins (Croup and Vandemar).

Richard tries to go back to his old life and old routine, but there’s a problem. London Above seems to have forgotten him. His apartment is being shown to potential tenants, no one at the office can see him, his fiancée doesn’t recognize him. It’s as if he never existed.

Richard has to go back to London Below to find Door and recover his existence. After a few adventures and mishaps he finds Door and joins her on her journey to discover what happened to her family and why. A legendary warrior named Hunter joins their posse to act as Door’s bodyguard.

There’s a whole bunch of stuff that they have to do, there’s a lot of hoops to jump through, a bunch of crazy characters with hidden agendas that they have to deal with. London Below is a rich, dense, chaotic and confusing world, and it’s a joy to explore.

Richard Mayhew learns more about himself in London Below than he ever did in his real life. So in the end, when the conflict has been resolved, and he’s back in his routine, he feels hollow. How can you survive the fantastic and return the mundane and be satisfied? You can’t be content with mediocrity after a magic mission like he experienced. So he finds a way back to London Below, his new home.

The comic cuts out a lot of stuff. They had to; the story is way too dense to be crammed into a nine issue series. They changed a few things here and there, but it’s a pretty faithful adaptation overall. You can tell that Mike Carey is fan of Neil Gaiman. He takes time and puts a lot of care and effort into converting a dense novel into comic book form. I’ve never done that, but I imagine it’s a difficult task.

The art is awesome. The story is awesome. Neil Gaiman is awesome. Mike Carey is awesome at trying to be Neil Gaiman. This is a decent comic, but the book is better.

Critically Rated at 11/17

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