Each week, Uproxx will be hosting the American Gods Book Club. This is a safe space where readers of Neil Gaiman’s massive novel can come to dissect the changes to the series and debate what will happen next, all without fear they’ll accidentally spoil something for non-readers.
The fact that American Gods on Starz exists is a miracle. When fans pray to the adaptation gods, this series is what they hope to get. But until Bryan Fuller signed on to make Neil Gaiman’s opaque, weird, and entirely unadaptable novel into a show, no one would have thought a live-action American Gods possible.
Gaiman’s novel defies description. It is over 200,000 words long. The preferred author’s text released for the ten-year-anniversary added another 12,000. Ostensibly, it’s the story of a man who loses his wife and gains access to a secret world and a tale of the old gods warring against the modern ones. It’s also a love story to road trips, Americana, and weird half-remembered traditions. It’s a biting commentary on the march of technological progress, a comedic satire, and a heart-wrenching dirge about the people and things we lose to time.
Yet somehow the show American Gods captures Gaiman’s story. It does it by not compromising how delightfully weird the world inhabited by Shadow Moon and Mr. Wednesday is. Having read the book, I have no way of judging if the show will land with those unfamiliar with the source material, but for anyone who’s been waiting to see their favorite gods in action, Fuller and his team hit the cow squarely in the skull.
Of course, adaptations can rarely lift straight from the source material without making changes. In the following weeks, I’ll be doing a variation on my (now mostly defunct due to the show outpacing the books) Game of Thrones Book Club where I compare the changes made in the name of storytelling and why the creators may have chosen to tweak certain scenes, characters, or plots.
Spoilers for American Gods ahead. Obviously.