October 3rd, 2010

new romantic.

Review: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Anansi Boys

by Neil Gaiman


Charles “Fat Charlie” Nancy’s father is the most embarrassing man on the planet, and he is the last person Fat Charlie wants at his wedding.  In fact, Fat Charlie is happiest when the entire Atlantic Ocean separates them, with Charlie in London and his father in Florida.  But he dutifully calls to invite the old man, only to learn he just missed him.  Fat Charlie’s father is dead.   Fat Charlie flies back to the United States for the funeral and discovers that his family isn’t done surprising him.  From one of his father’s friends Charlie learns that

A/ His father was a god, specifically Anansi, the trickster spider god

B/ Charlie has a brother, who inherited the magic and the charisma of their father

After Charlie returns to his mundane life in London, his brother Spider comes to call.  Spider is everything Charlie is not – suave, good-looking, confident, and carefree.  He settles into Charlie’s home and proceeds to wreak havoc, getting Charlie canned at work and seducing Charlie’s fiancée.  Charlie wants Spider out of his life, and he’s willing to do anything – even team up with unsavory gods – to get his normal life back.


Anansi Boys is a really fun read; it’s my favorite of Neil Gaiman’s adult novels.  It follows the Gaiman formula of an average Joe getting his life completely flipped around after a hidden magical world is revealed to him.  Spider and Charlie, Anansi’s sons, are initially polar opposites.  They are clearly defined in their roles as the magical heir and the normal one.    But the magical world isn’t fully separate from ‘regular’ world, and as two realities blend together, they become more and more alike, growing into multi-dimensional beings.  On Amazon.com, one reader titled his review “Neil Gaiman’s Guide to Self-Actualization” and it made me laugh, but I also think it’s a fair description.

The tension from the intermingling of the two realities makes the book very compelling and absorbing, plus it’s always neat to see what happens when authors set the gods in modern times.  If you haven’t read this book yet, go do it.  If you have, check it out in another format.  I just listened to the audio book for the first time, and it was a blast.  There’s also a radio play floating around out there somewhere.  Strangely, no graphic novel. 

5 out of 5 stars

To read more about Anansi Boys, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Random note: I keep calling it "Anasazi Boys". I don't know why I'm scrambling those two words up, but there you go.  Weird.