I got this book as a birthday present from a friend last year, and I cannot believe it took me this long to pick it up! Unfortunately, that seems to be my problem with books. I buy or receive them, forget I have them, misplace them, and before I know half a year has gone by and I haven’t even cracked it open.
I came across this book again while cleaning my room (isn’t it funny how many treasures you didn’t know you had you can unearth when you clean your room?) and since I had nothing else to do that night, I decided to settle in for a night of reading.
Anansi Boys is a spin-off of another Gaiman classic, American Gods – which, incidentally, is one of my all-time favorite books. As you could probably tell by the book’s title, the story focuses on the spider god Anansi and his two sons, Charlie and Spider.
The two are as different as can be. Charlie is shy, quiet, unassuming, and unambitious. He works for a talent agency and lives in London, where he leads a rather unremarkable existence. Spider, on the other hand, has inherited all the charm, aplomb, and supernatural abilities of their divine father. The two have never met, but fate brings them together with Anansi’s mortal incarnation, Mr. Nancy, dies.
Spider takes over Charlie’s life, worming his way into the good graces of everyone from his colleagues at work to his fiance Rosie. Charlie is not pleased, and turns to the supernatural to find a way to get his brother out of his life – only the magic he invokes works a little too well and his brother ends up at the mercy of an old family enemy. So now he’s got to rescue Spider, all while trying to deal with the consequences of his dabbling in the less-than-mortal aspects of his family history.
Toss into the mix Charlie’s boss, who’s been embezzling funds from his clients and is now trying to pin everything on Charlie. Add a dash of Inspector Daisy Day, a police officer from London assigned to Charlie’s case who becomes convinced of his innocence and is drawn into the whole affair. Blend well, and you’ve got yourself an unconventional tale of magic, revenge, and family bonds.
What I loved:
- Neil Gaiman. I’ve never read anything of his that I disliked. I’m pretty sure he could keyboard smash and I’d like it.
- Good old-fashioned magic and adventure. Most of Gaiman’s novels involve some pretty deep thinking, and while Anansi Boys is no lightweight, it’s certainly not as heavy as his other adult novels. It makes for a nice casual and whimsical read with just the right touch of depth and gravity.
- THE FEMALE CHARACTERS. God, Neil Gaiman really knows how to write amazing female characters. Rosie and Daisy are feminine, but they’re also spunky, charming, fearless when needed, fearful when warranted, flawed, and ultimately so relatable.
- Gaiman handles the matter of race very well, as many readers of American Gods will know. Anansi Boys was no exception.
What I disliked:
- Honestly, the only thing I didn’t like about it was that it didn’t inspire the depth of feeling that American Gods or Coraline did. It certainly doesn’t have the thrills that Gaiman’s other books have. Then again, you can’t win everything. Still, a good, solid read!
4/5. The book felt like one of those lukewarm roller coasters – not as fast-paced or exciting as those with the big loop-de-loops, but an enjoyable ride nonetheless! Absolutely loved it!