Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gods Behaving Badly

...and the title is apropos. That's something you don't necessarily see in a book nowadays.

Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips, has a fascinating concept at its core: all the Greek gods, almost the entire pantheon, rooming together in a dilapidated London townhouse. No one believes in them anymore. Artemis, goddess of hunting and chastity, is reduced to dog-walker. Apollo now hosts a psychic show. Aphrodite doing (what else?) telephone sex-operating. As characters, Phillips does an awesome job developing the gods. You see them, feel their pain, and laugh at their fuck ups.

Less so, the mortals that are supposed to carry the story.

I recommend it as a quick, entertaining read. But some of the themes that Gods touches on aren't fully delivered. The question of the power of belief is central to the plot but falls flat at the ending (which seems a bit rushed). There seems to be little to no growth in the pantheon as characters, which is to be expected to a certain extent, but Artemis seems tempted by mortality (a great opportunity to explore the pros and cons of immortality)...and then isn't. The mortals, Neil and Alice, aren't much better. They stumble along before the gods enter their lives, and stumble along after--only with a little more god-power on their side--without feeling the divine.

So, if you want to read something entertaining--you will's a guarantee! Ares, the god of war, and Eros, Cupid to you Romans (who has converted to Christianity), are especially well drawn. I'd say Athena was funny, but I didn't understand a word she said. Aphrodite is impressively offensive in a beautiful kind of way. It'll put a smile on your face.

1 comment:

  1. If you had their powers, wouldn't you behave badly, whether people believe in you or not?

    Sounds like a lighter verson of American Gods with only one pantheon. Hmmm. May have to give it a try.


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