Mini-Review: “Anansi Boys” by Neil Gaiman

Mini-Review: “Anansi Boys” by Neil GaimanAnansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Series: American Gods #2
Published: 2006 by HarperCollins
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 387
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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A couple months ago, a friend and I had a few glasses of wine at an embassy and decided to start a book club.  We settled on Anansi Boys as our first book.

I intended to write this post right after our meeting so all of the discussions were still fresh in my mind, but then life happened and I didn’t get around to it, so instead you get a mini-review with some fragmented impressions.

The story, in a nutshell:  Fat Charlie Nancy is a normal guy leading a normal (albeit boring life).  He’s got some daddy issues, but on the whole, he’s doing okay.  Then his father dies and he learns that there are a lot of things he didn’t know about himself and his family.  For starters, he’s got a brother that he’s never met, and who is now inadvertently ruining is life.  And, more importantly, their dad was Anansi the Spider, the African trickster god.  *shenanigans ensue*

Some thoughts, in bullet points:

  • This book contains the best description of a hangover that I’ve read in my life.
  • I see Charlie’s life before Spider ruined it as being somewhat superficial.  He was going through the motions and doing what respectable people do, rather than acting spontaneously or being passionate about anything. He wasn’t really living, and I loved seeing him grow as a person as the book progressed.  Similarly, I liked how Spider went from being kind of a charismatic asshole to a genuinely likable character.
  • My favorite characters have to be the little old Caribbean ladies who are into their own brand of witchcraft, but with somewhat haphazard execution.  Case in point–one of them used a penguin-shaped candle for a ritual because it was the closest thing to a black candle that she could find.
  • I am terrified of spiders, so there were several scenes that made me cringe a bit.  This shouldn’t be a problem for people who don’t have crippling arachnophobia.  I loved the book anyway.
  • I liked the way that Gaiman was able to use the original Anansi stories throughout the novel.  It made the whole book feel like it could perhaps be one.

Verdict:

An excellent read.  It’s the kind of book that’s funny and accessible, but will also make you think.

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6 comments

  1. I read this book years ago and absolutely loved it. It was rather different from American Gods, and definitely works on its own. The little old ladies were an awesome addition to the story.

    1. I’ve been meaning to read American Gods for a while now, and I’m glad that the two can work as companions but stand alone. 🙂

  2. Ah I need to read more Neil Gaiman – only read The Ocean at the End of the Lane! Must rectify this situation this year. He’s one of those must-read authors.

  3. I like your verdict. Sums up the book perfectly! Mr Nancy was one of my favourite characters in American Gods,which is why I read Anansi Boys. The story completely took me by surprise. I wonder how I would have found the book, had I read it before American Gods, like you. I agree, Anansi Boys does work on its own. In fact to me, in some ways, it works better than American Gods, because it doesn’t try so to be epic-like…