Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Review: Gods Behaving Badly
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
Reasons for reading: mentioned on Shelf Awareness; I was intrigued by the concept
First line: "One morning, when Artemis was out walking the dogs, she saw a tree where no tree should be."
Book description: Being a Greek god is not all it once was. Yes, the twelve gods of Olympus are alive and well in the twenty-first century, but they are crammed together in a London townhouse - and none too happy about it. And they've had to get day jobs: Artemis as a dog-walker, Apollo as a TV psychic, Aphrodite as a phone sex operator, Dionysus as a DJ. Even more disturbingly, their powers are waning . . . Soon, what begins as a minor squabble between Aphrodite and Apollo escalates into an epic battle of wills. Two perplexed humans, Alice and Neil, who are caught in the crossfire, must fear not only for their own lives, but for the survival of humankind. Nothing less than a true act of heroism is needed - but can these two decidedly ordinary people replicate the feats of the mythical heroes and save the world?
My thoughts: This was a really fun book. I've read a couple of books in the past where the gods are still with us, and I like the idea a lot. Phillips didn't disappoint - she brought the Olympians to life as very flawed gods and was true to their natures - Ares still starts all the wars, they're just in places like former Soviet republics now; Apollo still causes the sun to rise; although he might sometimes be a bit hungover or shagged out to do it right on time; Athena is so incredibly erudite that no-one can understand a word she says.
I enjoyed her choice of modern jobs for them - Aphrodite's moans into her Bluetooth phone at inopportune moments are a hoot. My copy has neat classical art-looking pictures of the dog walking and cell phoning on the covers and endpapers.
Phillips' portrait of the Underworld is very creative - Charon now ferries passengers on a secret London Underground train and you can get a job and a house in the afterlife, if you like. It's also quite a chilling picture - I was really saddened by the thought of all those billions of souls, especially the babies. I had to put the book away for a day or two.
In the end, it's a romantic comedy and you never doubt the outcome, but that's okay. The fast-paced story is liberally sprinkled with great witty lines and moments of absurdity.
Other reviews of this book: