Review: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

2744Anansi Boys

Neil Gaiman

384 pages

First published in 2005 by HarperCollins

Source: Personal library

It begins, as most things begin, with a song.

In the beginning, after all, were the words, and they came with a tune. That was how the world was made, how the void was divided, how the lands and the stars and the dreams and the little gods and the animals, how all of them came into the world.

They were sung.

I first read American Gods years ago and it’s probably in the top three of my favorite books of all-time. Since then, I’ve been meaning to read Anansi Boys and never got to it. Yesterday, I needed something to read while I sat in a waiting room and hastily grabbed Anansi Boys off my shelf. I didn’t put it down until I finished the last page a few hours ago.

“Fat Charlie” Nancy has been called Fat Charlie all his life. It started with his father and when his father names something, it sticks. Mr. Nancy dies and Fat Charlie thinks that’s the end of his father upstaging and embarrassing him. But when an old friend tells Fat Charlie about Spider, the brother he never knew, Fat Charlie’s life changes as he is chased by killer birds, hated by mythical beings, and learned the truth about his powerful father.

Though Anansi Boys features Mr. Nancy, a funny and lovable character from American Gods (AG), this isn’t AG #2. I didn’t know that before I picked this book up. It’s took several chapters for me to realize the fact. While it didn’t bother me, I’m sure readers who are expecting the same characters from AG to appear might end up disappointed.

There are a lot of differences between Anansi Boys and AG. One of the things that stands out is the tone. While AG was a pretty dark book, Anansi Boys is more light and funny. You can’t go wrong taking this light read with you on vacation.

Though Anansi Boys is an enjoyable read, it’s not my favorite Gaiman book. It can’t be because I love AG too much. Readers new to Gaiman’s novels will love this book. For the rest of us, I suspect it’s just another “good” book. My rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

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15 thoughts on “Review: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

  1. I had the opposite experience. I read Anansi Boys very early on when I became a Neil Gaiman fan. I didn’t know it was connected to American Gods. I actually thought Spider was going to be the main character in AG when I got around to it! But, I feel the same way – an enjoyable read but not a favourite.

  2. Anansi Boys has been one of the Neil Gaiman books that’s crept up on me. Every time I read it, I like it more, and by now I’ve read it nearly as often as Neverwhere. The jokes charm me, and I just like to see Neil Gaiman getting to be genuinely playful and have fun for the full book.

  3. Amani’s Boys on audio was the reason I started my book blog! I just had to tell the world how great Lenny Bruce’s narration is! I didn’t realize there was a connection to AG before I read it.

  4. Should I already know what the other two books are, with AG, on the top of your ATF list? I’m curious. Also curious whether you’ve particularly enjoyed any of his other books in particular (i.e. if there is an in-between: not AG but not not-a-favourite either)!

    1. East of Eden by John Steinbeck is probably #3. That top spot is constantly changing. Beloved (Morrison), Locomotion (Woodson), and several others are constantly fighting for that top spot. Sometimes they succeed, other times. . . :-) I really enjoyed Stardust. Coraline is a nice creepy read, perfect for winter weather. I’m still on the fence about The Graveyard Book and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I need to reread those soon.

  5. This one was awesome on audio – the reader did all the Caribbean and English accents. I think it was my first Gaimain besides some short stories, so it holds a special place in my heart. :) Looking forward to reading American Gods (for the first time!) this summer.

  6. I haven’t read AG yet, though I have two copies of that book in the house, as if that will make it likelier for me to pick it up, lol. I will have to read it. This one is also on my wishlist.

  7. I finally read my first Gaiman recently…Neverwhere and absolutely loved it. I’m determined to get through all of his books now.

  8. I had a similar experience with Anansi Boys – liked it just fine, but I was already so head over heels for American Gods that nothing was going to come close to that book. Had i read Anansi Boys first, I think I would have liked it more. But still, it’s Gaiman, so that means it’s going to be pretty darn good!

  9. I adore that cover! I think I might have the audio version of this book but I know I have the paperback of American Gods and I keep meaning to read it! Seriously I need to just get to it already–maybe this summer.

  10. With the way my audiobooking is going so far this year (I’m nuts!) I just might get to this before the end of the year. Like you, I loved AG and have been meaning to get to this one but just haven’t yet. I even remember Laurie urging me to try it but it just quite hasn’t been the right time. I have no doubt that I will enjoy.

  11. I really need to re-read these; it’s been so long that I barely remember the stories.

  12. I need to get to this one sometime this year! It’s near the end of the list of Gaiman things I have left to read — which is probably why I keep putting it off. We never want to be done having new stories to read by beloved authors, do we?

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