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Anansi Boys
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Neil Gaiman is best known for his witty, slightly wonky brand of dark fantasy. But he gets a bit lighter for "Anansi Boys," a sort of unconnected sequel to his hit "American Gods." You think your dad is embarrassing? Well, at least he's not a trickster god.

Fat Charlie's dad has always been weird -- brass bands for the terminally ill, nicknames that stick, and much more. But even away from his dad, Charlie isn't happy. Then he gets the news that his dad died during a karaoke song; when he goes to the funeral, an old neighbor tells him that Daddy was really Anansi the spider god. Even worse, Charlie finds out he has a brother.

Spider is everything Charlie isn't -- charming, debonair, witty, and magical. Soon he has not only taken over Fat Charlie's house, but his fiancee as well, distracting Fat Charlie from his boss's attempts to frame him. Determined to get rid of Spider, Fat Charlie enlists the Bird Woman's help -- but soon finds that his pact will only get them in deeper trouble with the ancient gods.

Trickerster gods -- Anansi, Loki, Kokopelli -- are always fun. And Gaiman makes the idea even more fun with "Anansi Boys." Sibling rivalry forms the backbone of the book, but it's also sprinkled with corporate intrigue, romance, and the old Anansi legends (which Gaiman inserts periodically). And of course -- lots and lots of humour.

With this lighter tone, Gaiman sounds a lot like his pal Terry Pratchett, right down to wry humor and comic timing. "There are three things, and three things only, that can lift the pain of mortality and ease the ravages of life. These things are wine, women and song." "Curry's nice too." Gaiman seems to be having a lot of fun in this book.

And nowhere is the fun more clear than in Spider and Fat Charlie. They're like yin and yang, one charming, conscienceless and godly, while the other is nervy, awkward and mundane. Spider's charm leaps out from the page, while Fat Charlie is sort of Gaiman's "Charlie Brown."

Everyone gets annoyed by their siblings and embarrassed by their dad, but the "Anansi Boys" have a life more complex than most. Lighter than most Neil Gaiman books, but hilarious, dark and imaginative.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2012
Neil Gaiman, often quite dark departs slightly in Anansi Boys. His writing is still recognizable as his own, but Anansi Boys is much lighter than its companion novel, American Gods or much of Gaiman's other works. It is a nice departure. The characters in Anansi Boys are engaging and the situations are humorous but still intense and exciting. Definitely a recommendation for someone who is a fan of Gaiman or anyone who enjoys fantasy novels or a darker humour.
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on November 19, 2010
Neil Gaiman is a very good, if not great, writer and he proved he is a smart writer as well with "Anansi Boys" (if there was any doubt). Whether you call it a sequel, or a spin-off, "Anansi Boys" is not an attempt to reproduce the amazing and incredible "American Gods". Instead, Gaiman produces a humorous novel, much lighter in feel, and much narrower in scope than its predecessor. By doing so, he has created a novel which can stand on its own merits, and will largely avoid a detailed comparison with its predecessor because the two are clearly very different.

The main character is Charlie Nancy, who is usually referred to as "Fat Charlie", though he isn't fat, but it is a nickname that his father gave him and it has stuck with him throughout his life. Charlie has become engaged, and his fiancé, Ruth, queries him about inviting his father to the wedding. This artful trick allows Gaiman to fill the reader on Charlie's history, the tricks his father played on him, and how he got to London while his Father lives in the U.S. At this point, Charlie is unaware that his father is the god Anansi, and he is unaware that his father has just died. In going to the funeral, Charlie's unusual family tree is revealed by old neighbors and friends of the family. They reveal not just the true nature of his father, but also the existence of Charlie's brother, Spider.

Initially Spider is quite different from Charlie, but throughout the book Spider becomes more like Charlie, and Charlie more like Spider, and they have the connection of brotherhood which allows Charlie to forgive Spider for the numerous tricks he plays on Charlie. Spider has inherited the magic and the trickster aspect of their father, while Charlie is much more mundane. His one great talent turns out to be singing, though stage fright prevents him initially from displaying it.

In spite of being dead, Anansi is also a key character in this story. Not just because these are his sons, but Gaiman artfully weaves the stories of Anansi with the rest of the story to make Anansi a critical character and to provide insight into Spider and Charlie. Those are by far the most important characters, but there is an additional cast of characters who fill out Charlie's life and are important to the direction of the book. Humor is key to this book, and it is present throughout, even through murder, torture, kidnapping, and prison.

I know that some have categorized this as Horror in addition to Fantasy, but I don't personally think it fits in that category. Certainly some horrible things happen, and there are a couple points where suspense builds a bit, but the humor aspect prevents me from putting it in that category. Regardless of what category it is put in, this is a very enjoyable novel, and while I would not put it on the same level as "American Gods", "Anansi Boys" stands quite well on its own.

Amazingly, Neil Gaiman refused the nomination for the Hugo award, but that didn't stop "Anansi Boys" from winning the 2006 Locus award for Fantasy Novel, the 2006 British Fantasy August Derleth Award for best novel, the 2006 Geffen award for Fantasy Book, the 2006 Mythopoeic award for Adult Literature, and the 2006 SF Site Poll for SF/Fantasy Book.
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Neil Gaiman has been named as one of the top ten living post-modern writers (the Dictionary of Literary Biography). A prolific creator of comics, drama, poetry, prose and song lyrics, he's also been called the new face of horror fiction. You can even find him active in other media such as blogging, film, journalism, radio and television.

His New York Times best-selling novel, American Gods, was awarded the Bram Stoker, Locus, Hugo, Nebula and SFX awards.

Anansi Boys, closely related to American Gods, has elements of comedy, horror, romance, the supernatural and even humour.

His collection of short fiction, Smoke and Mirrors, dark and unique, has been compared to the works of H. P. Lovecraft, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury and Stephen King (who is, himself, a fan of the author).

Better known for his classic work, The Sandman, a collection of modern, adult comics, Gaiman is a forty-something Englishman who now lives in the U.S.

I've read all three of the books mentioned. My 17 year-old son, a fan of The Sandman, bought them and insisted I devote some time to them. He figured if I was a fan of Stephen King, a horror writer who is arguably the finest story teller around, I just had to love Gaiman. He was right.

I can't think of anyone who has created a mythology quite like Gaiman's. His haunting vision of the landscape of modern Gods makes my skin crawl, yet I find myself unable to leave his work alone. His writing is like a drug that hooks you and leaves you an addict who must have more.

If you're new to the horror genre, I'd recommend adding this author to your reading list. More literary than Stephen King and possibly more difficult to read, Neil Gaiman will reward you for your effort.

Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2009
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You think your dad is embarrassing? Well, at least he isn't an African trickster god -- now that would be nothing but trouble.

But it's what you'd expect of Neil Gaiman, who is best known for his witty, slightly wonky brand of dark fantasy -- and his ability to spin up the most absurd stories in an entertaining fashion. And "Anansi Boys" features Gaiman getting in touch with his lighter, playful more humorous side, in a sort-of-sequel to his smash hit "American Gods."

Fat Charlie's dad has always been weird -- brass bands for the terminally ill, nicknames that stick, and much more. But even away from his dad, Charlie isn't happy. Then he gets the news that his dad died during a karaoke song; when he goes to the funeral, an old neighbor tells him that Daddy was really Anansi the spider god. Even worse, Charlie finds out he has a brother.

Spider is everything Charlie isn't -- charming, debonair, witty, and magical. Soon he has not only taken over Fat Charlie's house, but his fiancee as well, distracting Fat Charlie from his boss's attempts to frame him. Determined to get rid of Spider, Fat Charlie enlists the Bird Woman's help -- but soon finds that his pact will only get them in deeper trouble with the ancient gods.

Trickster gods -- like Anansi, Loki, Kokopelli, or even a bit of Hermes -- are always the most entertaining part of old myths and legends. They're unpredictable, unmistakable, get all the best lines, and perpetually wild'n'crazy -- and they are also the worst kinds of dads you could imagine. They probably wouldn't make wonderful brothers, either.

So of course, Gaiman goes to town with "Anansi Boys," by simply forming a story around that idea: what if a trickster god had two kids, who were nothing alike, but suddenly had to deal with one another? Gaiman also sprinkles it liberally with corporate intrigue, romance, and the old Anansi legends (which he inserts periodically). Don't expect the darker overtones of "American Gods," because this is a very different story.

With this lighter tone, Gaiman sounds a lot like his pal Terry Pratchett, right down to wry humor and on-the-spot comic timing. And the dialogue is pure gold: "There are three things, and three things only, that can lift the pain of mortality and ease the ravages of life. These things are wine, women and song." "Curry's nice too." Gaiman seems to be having a lot of fun in this book.

And nowhere is the fun more clear than in Spider and Fat Charlie. They're like yin and yang -- one brother is charming, conscienceless and self-consciously divine in his attitude, and the other is nervy, awkward and painfully mundane. Spider's charm leaps out from the page, while Fat Charlie is sort of Gaiman's "Charlie Brown." Don't worry, Fat Charlie improves as the book goes on.

Everyone gets annoyed by their siblings and embarrassed by their dad, but the "Anansi Boys" have a life more complex than most. Lighter than most Neil Gaiman books, but hilarious, dark and perpetually clever.
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on November 15, 2006
This is a great book by a talented author. Gaiman has used the same concept as his American Gods - i.e. what happens if Gods from other cultures are transported to modern day North America - and creates another excellent tale. This book is laugh-out-loud funny, while Gaiman also does a great job of creating a sense of empathy towards the protagonist. Gaiman 'weaves' a strong plot, with many twists and turns. Excellent read for a fantasy enthusiast!!!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2013
Another great, quirky fantasy story from an author who I have quickly come to enjoy reading. Even though this wasn't my favourite Neil Gaiman novel (though it was much better than American Gods), I did overall enjoy the story.
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