Meet Shadow, an ex-con, who’s released from prison and begins an increasingly strange journey around America with a man who claims to be a god. Their journey takes them through both America, and multiple realities… not in the sense of parallel universes — more like multiple layers of one reality. That is, what we see at face value is given richness and meaning by they things that play out in the layer beneath it. Am I making sense? No? No matter. What is sense anyway?
The story captures your attention from the get-go, the language is clear and direct, and the characters are bizarre and often genuinely hilarious. There are portions of prose that you want to read again and again — which is only problematic because you REALLY want to find out what’s going to happen next.
I loved the fact that all the loose ends were tied up and tucked in by the end of the novel, so you finish it feeling full. I do love a book that leaves you hungry for more, but there’s something to be said for books that feel like a really good meal. You keep eating and eating until you’re about to pop, just because it’s so delicious, and when you finish you can’t fit in another mouthful. When I finished this, I couldn’t start another book right away.
I heard many great things about this book before I started reading it. I was told that it was unputdownable, and also that I may have nightmares for weeks afterwards — both of which were entirely accurate statements. Let’s not forget that it’s also won the Hugo, and Nebula award. I’d never read any of Gaiman’s books before (though I’ve seen Coraline, and his Doctor Who episodes), so I can’t really compare it to any of his other stuff. The next one on my list is The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
Also, read this great article on Gaiman in the New Yorker.