Monday, August 31, 2009

Review by JD: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Review written by JD – the husband


Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

ISBN: 978-0-06-051519-5

Pages 384; paperback

HarperCollins, 2005

Oh dear. This seems to be a book that loads of people love, and the cover and opening pages are full of glowing reviews. I must say that I do like it; I’m just not crazy about it. I certainly see all the qualities that others refer to and I enjoyed reading it, but it just wasn’t one of those “wow” books for me. And that probably says more about me than it does about the book. If I had to use just one word to describe the book, it would be whimsical, and that’s not really my thing.

What’s it about? A guy’s estranged old father dies, while karaoke singing no less, and through some old and odd acquaintances he gets to find out that his dad was actually a god, and a very mischievous god at that. With the “help” of those add acquaintances he also founds out for the first time that he has a brother, who mysteriously shows up on his doorstep. After that, his whole world gets turned upside down and inside out, and he embarks on an odyssey to try and return things to some form of normality.

There are lots of things to enjoy about the book. It’s a clever and very cute story, intertwining fantasy with everyday life. It’s full of humor and laced with a few dashes of scary stuff. The characters range from the engaging to the awful; actually some are both. He has a very engaging writing style and it’s an entertaining read. I blew through it quickly, often finding myself smiling as I did so. And it does have the best description of a hangover that I have ever read!

Still, for me personally it’s a three–star book, though I certainly see why many rate it more highly.

P.S. I have to mention the most amazing coincidence. Just two weeks ago I finished reading The Terror by Dan Simmons, which is a very different type of book. Something truly awful and extremely unusual happens to the lead character in The Terror, and I’ll be darned if the same thing didn’t also happen to one of the lead characters in the Anansi Boys. I can’t say anything more without spoiling it, but this was one those weird one-in-a-million coincidences that just blow you away. This will form the basis for a great question in a book quiz one day. ;)

Amazon purchasing information is linked below – US/UK/Canada respectively

Anansi Boys/ Anansi Boys/ Anansi Boys


logankstewart said...

I recently read American Gods and I thought it was a really clever and smart story, but it did seem to be lacking things, too. I love Neil Gaiman, and this book is related to American Gods, so I may check it out one day. Thanks for the review.

Amanda said...

I read American Gods and wasn't really impressed. I've heard this one is better, and I like Gaiman's YA-and-younger stuff, so I'm hoping I like this more than I did AG.

John D said...

Hi Logan,
It is fun and very easy to read. It didn't take me long to get through it, so it's not something you need to make a big commitment to. If you do get around to it I'll be interested to hear what you think.

John D said...

Hi Amanda,
I was just about to type out the same message I sent to Logan! It is easy/quick/fun, so it's the sort of book you can try without investing too much time and effort. One to try when you fancy something light and frivolous.

Cara Powers said...

I enjoyed learning about mythology in Africa, but other than that, ick. I do enjoy mythology, and Neil Gaiman is very knowledgeable on the subject. I think American Gods is good because of his interpretation of how gods are born and die and because of his American gods. They are sadly a too true comment on American culture.

Krista said...

This sounds like my kind of book for sure! Plus, I really love Neil Gaiman so I'll have to give this book a go! Wonderful review.

John D said...

Hi Krista,
Thanks for the nice words. I hope you really enjoy the book. I look forward to seeing your review.

John D said...

Hi Cara,
Thanks for your comments. It's not a book for everyone and I was kind of on the fence. But it certainly made me smile a few times and that's no bad thing.


Not terrible impressed with this one but I did enjoy American Gods.

John D said...

Hi Elizabeth.
Oh well. Did you like the description of hangover? I thought it was almost worth reading the book just for that one paragraph!


You remember paragraphs?
I think I read so much that once done a book lingers mostly as a like or dislike.
I remember authors I like so I can watch for anything new.
I currently have 64 items on reserve at the library and 5 books at home that I just picked up. I won't read them all. I reserve anything that looks interesting and judge a book on the first couple of chapters. If I'm not pulled in or I don't like the writing style I close it up and return it. I love the flexibility the library give me.

John D said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Good question! No, I don't usually remember paragraphs but after I read this one I was smiling so much I read it aloud to Shellie and we both got a good laugh out of it. So this one did stick in my memory.

Once I've read a book and consigned it to a shelf somewhere, I'm like you - I mainly remember it as something I either liked or didn't. If I liked it then snippets of plot or characters will stick in my mind somewhere.

If I didn't like it, the details are gone.

Carl V. Anderson said...

I really enjoyed American Gods a great deal and have to admit that the first time I read Anansi Boys I liked it, but was not bowled over by it. A lot of that for me had to do with expectations, I think, because while related to the American Gods universe it is such a different story. I read it a second time awhile later and it really went up several notches in my estimation. I am a fan of the books that Neil was paying homage to in writing this book and I was able to see it much more in that light and enjoy it more the second time around. All the anticipation and expectation was gone at that point and I could read it through eyes not clouded with stars (I picked this book up at a Neil Gaiman reading/signing in Chicago when it came out). A few years ago I was given an audio copy of this...that is where the story really shines. The reader is fantastic!

It is certainly a light read, and I think that is what it was intended to be. It had its clever moments and I enjoyed the relationship between Daisy and Charles quite a bit.

John D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John D said...

Hi Carl,

Sorry for the delayed response. Everyone seems to be saying that American Gods is a preferred Neil Gaiman book for them, so I guess that's one that I will check out.

I also enjoyed the way the relationships developed during the book, and in particular the way in which Spider was a catalyst for so many changes

logankstewart said...

Hey John,

I've put up my thoughts on Anansi Boys over at my blog today.

Take care!

John D said...

Hi Logan - I just read it and posted a comment. Nice review.

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