This was a kind of a placeholder for me. I’m not allowing myself to reread American Gods again, because I reread it less than a year ago, and I love it too much, and the TV series is coming, and it’s my favorite kind of book, so I had to find a proxy, and this looked super interesting.
And it was good, but not amazing (nothing is American Gods, goddamnit!). I think the hardest for me was that Ike is no hero, antihero, complicated scamp, or ingenue answering the call, he’s just a flawed man with a terribly flawed plan.
It’s possible that my expectations were too high. But for me, urban fantasy requires whimsy, and Foreign Gods, Inc promises a great sense of humor but then doesn’t deliver. The journey is interesting, but also impossible to fully purchase. Ike is doomed for failure, and we’re not disappointed by it, because it’s fairly obvious and I never felt encouraged to root for him.
Nutshell summary: Ikechukwu Uzondu travels as a young man from Nigeria to get his finance degree in America on a student visa but then his inability to get a green card makes it impossible for him to find a job in his chosen field. He has an enormous chip on his shoulder about how people treat him as an immigrant, and is determined to make a fortune one way or another. He makes a mess of his life, devolves into alcoholism and self-loathing, and finally plans to return to Nigeria, steal the local war god from his uncle who is its caretaker, and sell it to a boutique in New York that specializes in collecting unique gods for resale to its very rich clientelle.
Nutshell conclusion: Ike is an idiot and it’s hard to watch him flounder in self-sabotage. The conceit is interesting and exciting, but the execution is frustrating.