American Gods, Neil Gaiman, William Morrow, 2001, 588 pp
This was a long read but I did it in four days due to an airplane flight, a leisurely weekend at my sister's and a whole afternoon and evening of reading at my mom's. I had just finished Harry Potter (5) and the Order of the Phoenix which was an almost perfect transition: from magic to ancient gods.
The hero is Shadow, who is not a god, though he is a Christ figure of sorts. Just as he is released from prison, he finds himself pursued by a very odd guy who wants to hire him as a bodyguard. From there on it gets weirder and more weird. Many characters who have certain down-and-out personae in modern American life (such as prostitutes, embalmers, etc) are actually forgotten gods of ancient religions. These gods were brought to America by immigrants, beginning thousands of years ago and then dropped as the immigrants became Americanized. There is a war brewing between these gods and the current gods of money, media and computer/cyber space/drug people.
Lots of satire here, lots of data on myths and ancient religions as well as lots of brilliant imagination. It is all hung on Shadow's journey to discover his destiny and his heritage which plays out like a good mystery story. In the end I liked it, though at times it dragged and made me sleepy. I am also fairly ignorant about some of these gods, though I was pleased to see that I know a bit because of all the reading I've done. In any case, it is a unique story which I suspect has changed me in ways that will become apparent later.