Review: Anansi Boys

      3 Comments on Review: Anansi Boys

I just finished reading Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman. I have two things I want to say about it, and the two things might be related, but they might not. And until I wrote that line, I didn’t realize how much how much it referred to the book itself. If you’ve read it, you know what I mean.

The book is the sequel to Gaiman’s much-touted American Gods. Being a considerable mythology buff, I enjoyed AG a great deal. I liked the scope of the story, I enjoyed recognizing the references to Norse mythology early in the story and felt unreasonably “in the know” as the story progressed and more elements from that mythos were brought into play. But this isn’t a review of AG, so I’ll let it go.

If you’ve read AG, and come to this book looking for a sequel (as I was), you may be disappointed. This book doesn’t pick up any of the same plot threads and only includes one character who was rather minor character in its predecessor. Anasi Boys also has a very different tone from AG, is much lighter and often rather comical.

On the other hand, if you can come to the book with no pre-conceived notions, or if this is your first experience with Gaiman, you might really enjoy this book. It’s a ripping good yarn, engaging, and fun in a way that reminded me of the much-missed Douglas Adams. It’s about life and the power of mythology and the mortification that can only come from family. It’s also about figuring out who you are, really, and coming to accept and even embrace that.

And if this really is your first experience with Neil Gaiman, good heavens, what are you doing wasting your time reading this blog? Go find most anything of his you can lay hands on and surrender the rest of your day.

3 thoughts on “Review: Anansi Boys

  1. satyridae

    I agree entirely, especially with the Douglas Adams comparison. In that vein, I think that American Gods is to Anansi Boys as Harlan Ellison is to Douglas Adams. I also agree that as a stand-alone book, AB is delightful in the way that effervescent drinks are delightful. But I can’t shake the feeling that it’s a book in which Gaiman stayed resolutely on the surface of things like a spider dimpling the top of the water and not leaving a footprint behind.

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  2. mister_borogove

    I felt that AG aimed just slightly beyond Gaiman’s abilities — it never really felt satisfying to me for some reason. Maybe it didn’t tell me enough about the new (American-born) gods in its efforts to make me sympathize with the old (immigrant) gods. I’m not sure.

    Anansi Boys, on the other hand, while superficially lighter, felt more solid and ultimately more meaningful to me. It could easily have worked as a flighty Douglas Adams/Terry Pratchett romp, but in the end, it said a lot more without feeling forced.

    I do feel that Gaiman is still finding his footing as a novelist — given what he’s accomplished in some of his short stories, I think we’ll eventually see some work for the ages out of him.

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