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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boys, boys!
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...
Published on 25 Feb 2007 by E. A Solinas

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little too by-the-numbers to be classic Gaiman
The book has all the sly touches of Gaiman humour that we've come to expect. I particularly enjoyed the retailing of Anansi's final moments on earth, the tricks he used to play on poor Fat Charlie, and some of the scenes with the villainous Grahame Coats were v. amusing, albeit in a black humour way. However, there is a peculiar lack of ... soul to the piece.

I...
Published on 15 Jun 2007 by I Read, Therefore I Blog


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boys, boys!, 25 Feb 2007
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Anansi Boys (Paperback)
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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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a bed-time story for grown-ups, 11 May 2006
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This review is from: Anansi Boys (Paperback)
'Anansi Boys' is really a story about embarrassing parents and other relatives who turn up exactly when you least want and need them to that starts out completely - well, normal - and suddenly drops into a mixture of horror, fantasy, comedy and crime all at once. Fat Charlie Nancy discovers after his father's funeral that Dad wasn't just any emabarrassing parent but Anansi the trickster spider-god. And when voodoo witch Mrs. Higgler tells him he has a brother he can't even remember, Charlie impulsively calls said brother up (magically I mean not on the phone). which gets him ino a great deal of trouble with the police, his fiancé, various ancient gods, his psycho boss, and worst of all, his future mother-in-law...

Gaiman's story is the funniest thing I've read since the last time I bought a Discworld novel a year or so ago; it is also the spookiest. How many times do we all wonder who our parents were before they were parents, and why they have to be so embarrassing once they are? And how many of us have had nightmares about someone else taking over our lives? And above all, how does Gaiman manage to slip in the supernatural (or rather, weird) occurences into normal life with such ease that they seem completely logical, totally normal and so simple that it seems anyone should be able to perform 'miracles'? I guess its just a question of style; and Gaiman has lots of it. He appears to toss this story off without any effort whatsoever, and thus it reads more easily than most fantasy and/or horror stories that seem a lot more forced and constructed. And you simply cannot call it a book: it is a story of the same sort as the original Anansi stories: a fairy-tale.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High quality entertainment, 22 Jun 2006
This review is from: Anansi Boys (Hardcover)
Neil Gaiman introduced Compe Anansi, the African spider-god and trickster, as a minor character in his last best seller, "American Gods." Although American Gods was readable, Anansi Boys is better. As another reviewer has pointed out, there were places where American Gods just felt like a bit of a re-hash of the Brief Lives story arc from "Sandman." By comparison, Anansi Boys takes the character and background of the African (or by now African-American) god Anansi and riffs on the mythos with highly original results.

Anansi himself is a brilliantly memorable creation - a dapper, fedora-wearing, wisecracking, Cab Calloway lookalike with a perpetual eye for the ladies (even after death) and a soft-shoe shuffle "that was popular for about half an hour in Harlem in the 1920's," and, in consequence, a constant source of toe-curling mortification to his estranged son Fat Charlie. When the story opens, Fat Charlie is living mundanely in South London, with a lukewarm fiancée, a mother-in-law-to-be from Hell, and a job working for a man who resembles the psychotic twin of Reggie Perrin's boss. He's one of life's mysteriously selected fall guys - his father plays humiliating jokes on him as a kid, promotion passes him over; coffee gets spilt on his lap, his embarrassing nickname survives weight loss and a 3000-mile move across the Atlantic, a wrongful arrest causes neighbours to assume that he must be a Yardie. Things, however, are about to get worse ... far, far worse.

Told with the authorial voice of a generous, stand-up raconteur (Gaiman credits Lenny Henry in the acknowledgements) this is entertainment of a high quality. As with "American Gods", there's a certain amount of magic. Appropriately, however, and at best, it often appears as verbal trickery, so that you can watch the storyteller shifting the perceptions of the listener as they talk (in one of the best scenes, Fat Charlie's boss tries to sack his twin brother Spider, and the usual redundancy spiel goes horribly wrong). I'd always assumed Gaiman did the plot of "Good Omens," and Pratchett did the dialogue, but this demonstrates that he can do both ... now, if only the two of them could get back together for "Good Omens II" ..?
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 3 July 2006
This review is from: Anansi Boys (Paperback)
I read this on the back of reading another novel by Gaiman - American Gods. I rated American Gods as 5 stars, and I actually thought that Anansi Boys is a better book!

The book is a hybrid of reality, fantasy and comedy, and manages to combine the three extremely well. It is extremely well-written as per usual from Gaiman, and the characters are very well developed, although it suffers in parts from the odd clichéd character (the girlfriends mother, for example), but this doesn't detract from the overall enjoyment.

There are some dark moments in the book that are quite thought-provoking, but on the whole it is fairly easy reading. The storyline is original and, like American Gods, involves quite a few of God legends.

If you liked Gaiman's previous work, you'll love this. If you like fantasy books (Pratchett, Holt etc), you'll love this. In fact if you like reading, you should love this! This gets the full 5 stars, highly recommended.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, 26 Sep 2005
By 
Leonard Fleisig "Len" (Virginia Beach, Virginia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Anansi Boys (Hardcover)
good and ill together. That line from Shakespeare's All's Well that Ends Well captures the essence of Neil Gaiman's latest creation, Anansi Boys.
Charlie Nancy is one of life's more passive characters. He is perpetually embarrassed by those around him. He grew up in Florida embarrassed by his father who had an eye for the ladies, never seemed to have a job, and who bestowed upon Charlie the nickname "Fat Charlie". It is a name that stuck to Charlie like glue and has followed him everywhere he goes, even to England where he now lives and works. More than anything else, Fat Charlie is embarrassed by himself. His life is an endless stream of self-conscious needless apologies for his life. As one would expect from a character like Charlie he is timid in front of his boss and can't seem to convince his fiancé that there is nothing wrong with consummating their relationship prior to their marriage. The word perpetually frustrated comes to mind here.
As the story opens, Fat Charlie is back in Florida for the funeral of his father. Charlie no doubt hopes his dad's death, which occurred while singing a song in a Karaoke bar much to Charlie's embarrassment, will put an end to his own state of perpetual embarrassment. That is the closure Charlie seeks. But the old ladies who made up his Dad's circle of friends tell Fat Charlie that their father was something of a god, in fact a spider god. They also tell Fat Charlie he has a brother. Fat Charlie, of course, will have none of this nonsense and returns to England.
Of course, life is never so simple for any character drawn by Neil Gaiman. It turns out Fat Charlie does have a brother, Spider, who is everything Charlie is not. Spider is personable, charming, glib, and has the ability to charm the pants off just about anyone he desires. As the name Spider implies, Charlie is soon drawn into the parallel world inhabited by Spider a world of small gods and vengeful animals. Fat Charlie is introduced to a whole new universe of characters and his ability to distinguish between fact and fantasy grows increasingly thin.
Anansi Boys worked on two levels for me. First, I actually grew attached to the character of Fat Charlie. I was surprised that I developed such empathy for Fat Charlie. Generally, I do not find 'passive' characters all that attractive, but, as the book wore on I felt myself rooting for him. Second, Anansi Boy is, at its heart a story about a dysfunctional (but very funny) family and explores how its members try to reach some accommodation with their past and their present relationships. This is not meant to imply that the book is weighed down with ponderous statements on the meaning of life or families; far from it. The great success of Gaiman's writing in my opinion is that he can handle a topic with both humor and sensitivity. The story does not bog down in 'deep thoughts'. Gaiman spins his yarn and leaves it up to the reader to read between the laughs. I found the conclusion to be particularly well done.
I very much liked Anansi Boys. It should certainly satisfy fans of Gaiman's body of work. It is also accessible to anyone who has not read Gaiman.
Anansi Boys, like the spiders that form its conceptual heart, draws you inexorably into its web until you cannot get out. Fortunately, Gaiman has spun such a fine yarn that you don't mind being ensnared at all. This was a book worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old gods in the modern age, 14 Mar 2006
This review is from: Anansi Boys (Audio CD)
The old African gods are still going strong in the 20th century. They've expanded their range with the ancestors of the people who first believed in them: the islands of the Caribbean, America, Britain, this world and the next. Anansi, the spider god, won all the stories from Tiger (the god that represents all cats) long long ago. And Tiger is still angry about it. When Anansi dies, his son, Charlie is in for a world of trouble. Nobody told him his dad was a god - not until after the old fellow died. Then they told him that he has a brother too. It's all news to Charlie. And that's just the beginning.
My thanks to the previous reviewer. His enthusiastic review persuaded me to buy this audiobook. As he's indicated, Lenny Henry is an excellent reader. The way he can change his voice from an old lady with a Caribbean accent, to a girl with an English accent to a man with an American accent, without pause or hesitation, is very impressive and completely convincing. The story is fantastic (in both senses of the word), sometimes funny, occasionally frightening and a real treat for the imagination.
Great fun. Highly recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boys, boys!, 1 Oct 2005
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Anansi Boys (Hardcover)
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."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. 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. 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, riveting to listen to., 6 May 2009
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This review is from: Anansi Boys (Audio CD)
I was already a fan of the book when I bought the audiobook. Lenny Henry's reading is just superb. He brings Anansi Boys to life with some great (but not over-the-top) characterisations. I've been listening to it on car journeys - it's such a good way to pass the time. More than once, I've reached my destination and remained in the car just to catch the end of a chapter. Buy it, you won't be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful and insightful fantasy, 4 Aug 2006
By 
Tim Parsons (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Anansi Boys (Hardcover)
Neil Gaiman has yet to disappoint me.

This is gentle fantasy, varying from dark to bright sometimes within a page, and even people who wouldn't normally choose to read anything within the fantasy genre will find this easy to read and relate to. It's often funny, but isn't comedy. It has its monsters, but it's not horror. It has observation in bucketloads; everyone -- even Spider -- is someone you know, and sometimes even someone you are, but it's when recognition of the familiar is mixed into the stranger-than-you-know world that is Gaiman's stock in trade that this is at its most entertaining.

Buy it. You'll love it. And you'll say hello to at least one spider by the end, just in case.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spiderboys!, 24 Jan 2008
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Anansi Boys (P.S.) (Paperback)
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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Anansi Boys
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (Paperback - 8 May 2006)
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