Anansi Boys  

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Book cover, Anansi Boys, a fantasy novelImage via Wikipedia

Anansi Boys

By Neil Gaiman, 2005, borrowed from Dan

You should know

I'd read American Gods a while back -- not long after Anansi Boys came out, in fact. I enjoyed it.

Dan reads a lot -- he's easily as bad as I am, just not in all the same genres -- and if I mention a book I'd like to read that he already owns, he'll just throw up the trunk of his car and let me have at it. I'm sure it looks quite suspicious to passers-by.


It's actually pretty impressive how Gaiman manages to write two books with such different characters, who have such different adventures, with such a different tone to the stories, and yet there's absolutely no doubt that these two novels take place in the same "universe."

My feelings about Anansi Boys are mixed, though. I found myself caring much more about Fat Charlie than I ever did about Shadow, maybe because Fat Charlie has exposition. At the same time, I didn't find the action as compelling. Anansi Boys was a bit more goofy than American Gods. I feel like it had a bit of Pratchett's influence, while the earlier book seemed to be more creepy, comic-book--Gaiman.

The plot is pretty basic. Fat Charlie Nancy's father dies, and at the funeral Fat Charlie learns that a) he has a brother, and b) their father is actually Anansi, a trickster-god and the ruler of all stories. Spider, the brother, is powerful and irresponsible, a sharp contrast to Fat Charlie's overly-conscientious, easily-embarrassed personality. Before too long, we find out why, and the reunion of the two brothers leads to a better life for both of them. As these things tend to do. In the meantime, there's witchcraft, animal gods, a murder case, and a subterranean conversation among the deceased.


Read it if...
...You enjoyed American Gods, you like Gaiman's work, or you're intrigued by the idea of pagan gods singing karaoke in Florida. I know I am.

The rest of the Internet

The Wikipedia page.
The LibraryThing page.
A review from the Onion AV Club.
Bonnie at BlogCritics reviews the book.
Jennifer Reese at Entertainment Weekly was less impressed.
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