All my friends always told me that I had to read American Gods. They talked this book up so much. So I decided to finally sit down and read it before the HBO series comes out.
For me, I wasn't impressed. The pacing was incredibly slow and the main character, Shadow, was utterly lackluster to the point where he had no personality at all. I know it has been said that Shadow is intended to be a placeholder for the reader and the everyman, so to speak, but I was completely unable to connect to him in any way.
The premise of the story and the twist ending were all very clever and interesting, but it took me so long to get there that, by the end, I simply didn't care because I was so entirely bored with the entire journey. I also was unable to immserse myself during the more surreal scenes that occured. They were just a bit too cerebral and trippy for me.
The idea was brillant, but the execution fell flat for me. In order to make a story like this work, you can't have a "place holder" as your main character - you need a gripping, engaging and interesting character to make readers connect with and care for and want to journey along with. I never cared about Shadow, because all he was WAS a shadow, essentially. There was no driving action that compelled me to turn the pages. The only reason I stuck with it was because my friends insisted I keep reading and that the payoff would be worth it. And yes, the ending was very well done. It was unexpected and clever, but I do not think it was worth going through 500+ pages to get to when those pages were a very long, ardious and boring journey. Had the journey to get there been filled with a little more excitment and intensity - had the main character actually been an interesting and complex person, it would have worked. But with neither of those in place, the result was "ho-hum".
Neil Gaiman is a master craftsman and a natural wordsmith, so writing itself is not the issue here. And I can certainly understand the appeal to some people. It's not a bad book, it's just not for me.