American GodsThere’s nothing more delightful than a book that makes me feel smart while I’m reading it.

I don’t mean in a “Oh my God, this is such simplistic writing” kind of way. More like “Hey, I totally recognize that obscure cultural/literary reference!” It’s why I like reading Jasper Fforde. It’s a reward for the vast amounts of usually useless trivia that’s taking up shelf room in my brain.

The premise of “American Gods” is that all the immigrants who came to America brought their gods with them. The people who crossed the Bering Strait brought their animal deities, the Vikings brought Odin, the Irish brought the Morrighan and leprechauns – and here the gods languish, as the people who once worshiped them die out or stop believing.

But here in the New World, we created our own gods to worship: Highways, Cell Phone, Internet and Credit Cards. And the new gods are ready to make war on the old gods.

Into this steps Shadow, a recently released ex-con whose wife has just been killed in car with another man. A mysterious stranger named Wednesday offers him a job as a bodyguard, and suddenly he is caught up in the schemes of a god.

As a kid, I was very into mythologies. Greek, Norse, Egyptian, you name it. Neil Gaiman drops hints and references to hundreds of different mythologies, and figuring out all the clues awoke the 8-year-old nerd in me. (To be honest, that little girl is never sleeping very heavily.)

That’s not to say that I would let an 8-year-old read this book. It is adult and it is dark.

Verdict: 8.5 out of 10. As a bonus, I got to break out my rusty Russian skills! Such as they are.