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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Anansi Boys

Author: Neil Gaiman
Rating: 5/5
Challenge: Mythopoeic Award Challenge

I really liked American Gods, so I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. Sometimes you read a book by an author you really like and they write another book that ends up being a retread of the previous book. And then you feel cheated. Anansi Boys, however, did not disappoint. It is similar to American Gods only in the fact that both contain gods (and the always-charming Mr. Nancy). Everything else - tone, length, characters, plot - is completely different. You wouldn’t have to read American Gods to understand Anansi Boys, and even elements that occurred in the first book (the world that the gods inhabit, dead characters, the interaction between gods and people) are handled differently so that everything is still fresh and interesting.

Anansi Boys turns its focus exclusively to the African pantheon of gods. Anansi, the trickster spider god is dead, and Fat Charlie, his straight-laced, somewhat bumbling son learns not only that his dad was a god, but that he has a brother he has never met before.

Where American Gods is serious, this book is light-hearted and nimble. Fat Charlie's brother, Spider is a stitch. Endowed with the powers of the gods, a trickster god as a father, and a large sense of his own self-important, he is cocky, charming, and not the type of houseguest you’d want. Especially when he pretends to be Fat Charlie and starts putting the moves on Fat Charlie’s fiancĂ©e, Rosie.

Spider was sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying a steak large enough for two people.
"Where did you get that from?" said Fat Charlie, although he was certain he already knew....
"It was in the fridge."
"That," declared Fat Charlie, wagging his finger like a prosecuting attorney going in for the kill, "that was the steak I bought for dinner tonight… for me and Rosie. The dinner I was going to be cooking for her! And you’re just sitting there like a, a person eating a steak, and, and eating it, and-“
“It’s not a problem,” said Spider
“What do you mean, not a problem?”
“Well,” said Spider, “I called Rosie this morning already, and I’m taking her out to dinner tonight. So you wouldn’t have needed the steak anyway.”
Fat Charlie opened his mouth. He closed it again. “I want you out,” he said.
“It’s a good thing for man’s desire to outstrip his something or other – grasp or reach or something – or what else is Heaven for?” said Spider, cheerfully, between mouthfuls of Fat Charlie’s steak.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“It means I’m not going anywhere. I like it here.”

After Spider uses his god-powers to kick Fat Charlie out of his own home while he romances Rosie, Fat Charlie flies back to his hometown to get some wisdom on how to get rid of Spider. He makes a deal with one of the ancient animal gods to get Spider out of his life but gets more than he bargained for when masses of birds start attacking the two of them. This sets off a set of adventures where Fat Charlie and Spider have to work together to stay alive.

This is a book with vivid characters and an offbeat sense of humor. The relationship between Spider and Fat Charlie is funny and touching. Things might get dangerous, but if the two brothers can learn to work together, they can save the day and their respective women from mortal peril. Neil Gaiman is a new favorite of mine, so I have to give a special thank you to the bloggers who introduced me to his work.


Chris said...

I absolutely loved this book and it's one that I've been meaning to read again for awhile. I've heard that the audiobook is really good, so I think that next time I "read" it, I'll give that a go. I loved the whole thing with the lime towards the end...had me in stiches! Glad you enjoyed it!

Rhinoa said...

I am really looking forward to reading this for the Mythopoeic challenge as well. I read American Gods as my first book this year and loved it.

Kim L said...

chris-I loved the part about the limes too! I have heard good things about the audiobook as well. If I ever get time to reread it, I'll probly go that route as well.

Rhinoa-Yes! If you liked American Gods, you'll love this one! They complement each other well.

Debi said...

I have this one on my Mythopoeic list as well, and I can't wait to get to it! Even more so after your review!

Kim L said...

debi-I bet you'll really enjoy this book! The words "delightful romp" fit well.

Andi said...

My former thesis director listens to a ton of audio books, and she recommended this one recently. I never really had any interest in picking this particular book up, but your review and her rec is helping me get interested! Thanks!

Kim L said...

andi-I definitely recommend it. It's definitely a quick read and worthwhile!

Nymeth said...

Great review! This one is a favourite of mine and I'm looking forward to revisiting it this year.

Darla D said...

This was such a fun book! I just read and reviewed it for the Mythopoeic Award Challenge, too. I enjoyed reading your review of it. I will definitely have to read American Gods some time soon.