Book Review: Anansi Boys

by Shannon Fox

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Fat Charlie Nancy’s normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn’t know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother. Now brother Spider is on his doorstep—about to make Fat Charlie’s life more interesting . . . and a lot more dangerous.

I actually finished this book a little bit ago, but have been debating about whether I wanted to review it or not. Not that it wasn’t good (it was). Not that it wasn’t entertaining (it was). I think was just expecting…more.

Neil Gaiman is kind of a God among authors. He’s a brilliant, brilliant man. My first taste of Gaiman came through American GodsThat novel was magnificent and spellbinding. I was kind of blown away by the whole thing. Before that I discovered that Gaiman wrote Stardust, which is one of my favorite films (still need to read the book). So I had really high expectations for Anansi Boys.

It was good. It was fun. It was entertaining. It was solid. It was funny. But it didn’t raise the bar. There’s not a lot to dislike in this novel and it’s definitely one of Gaiman’s more even-keel works. But it just didn’t sweep me off my feet. I enjoyed reading it. I liked it. I just didn’t knock-on-everyone’s-doors love it.

This would be a great novel to ease into the Gaiman waters. Having now read American Gods, Anansi Boys, and the short story collection, Fragile Things, this is a good one to test out the waters. It’s not huge and sprawling the way American Gods is. It’s not incredibly dark, twisted, or disturbing, as you find in passages from AG and stories in Fragile Things.

I hated Spider for about the first half of the novel. The novel kind of jumps back and forth between their viewpoints so that probably has something to do with my less-than-worshipful enjoyment. Also Fat Charlie is just kind of schmuck. Shadow in AG was also kind of schmuck, but he at least had an edge to him, even if most of the novel involves people acting on Shadow, rather than Shadow acting on anyone. Fat Charlie is kind of calamity after calamity. You just really feel terrible for the guy.

The last 1/3, 1/4 I enjoyed much more though. We get to a real turning point in the plot/with the character development. The ending was a little too neat, but it’s not like the novel really wandered too far from the straight and narrow anyway.

Read this if you like Neil Gaiman, fantasy, Native American folklore/mythology, and comedic books.

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