Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

My Copy: 9780060515195 (image from bn.com)

I almost quit reading this one. I was around page 126 and maybe it was being sick all week, but I was tempted to quit because of the depiction of one of the characters. However, I gave it a few more pages… and then stayed up to read all the way to the end.

Anansi Boys is about one named Fat Charlie Nancy (who really isn’t fat by most accounts, but his dad nicknamed him that and it stuck). He lives a relatively normal if mostly uneventful life and about to get married when he gets word that his father died and he needs to go to the funeral. So he hops a flight to the states and learns that he has a half-brother running around.

What’s strange is nobody has an address or phone number for him, but if he wants to meet him, he needs to ask a spider. After all, his father was Anansi the spider, a god.

After drinking and angry that night, he does… and Spider (the brother) comes into his life like a hurricane.

Spider is the reason I almost quit reading the book. While I thought maybe Charlie was a bit uptight, Spider reminded me of the ditzy, dimwitted characters that I got REALLY sick of seeing in 1930s or 1960s romantic comedies–you know, the character that talks rapid fire and creates misunderstandings right and left, but if they’d take a breath or the other main character could shut them up and make them listen for 30 seconds, everything would be made clear.

Spider was definitely the male version of that for me–doing what he wanted because apparently he has some of his dad’s magical abilities, most often the ability to push people a bit and make them think what he wants them to. Spider causes all kinds of trouble for Charlie at his job, with his fiancee, Rosie (and her mother especially), with the police because of his job (and an interesting officer, Daisy, who ends up investigating Charlie), among other things.

I didn’t get what was supposed to happen, exactly, but I grew to want to know how the hell Charlie was going to get out of these messes. When he decides Spider just has to go and get out of his house and his life, he ends up participating in some ritual that just makes them all end up in the rabbit hole. And over time, secrets are revealed about Charlie, Spider, and their father.

Once Spider’s hurricane died down, I got REALLY invested in the story, and I wondered what was supposed to happen next. I think it wrapped things up quite nicely by the end, and left possibilities open at the same time (I ended up laughing out loud at some of it). The flow of the story was fantastic and it really took off.

You don’t have to have read American Gods to get the gist of what’s going on in this book. It has similar rules to that book’s world, yet is much easier to follow in my opinion. Glad I finished this one; I would’ve missed out on some good laughs.

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