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Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

I've always been really interested in the mythology of other cultures, I think primarily due to the fact that, compared to the rest of the world, the Christian myths are pretty dull. Greco-Roman myths were a favorite of mine was I was growing up, so different and exciting when compared to one God, and just some guys who occasionally knew his game plan. I loved the diversity of the gods and the fact that there was a god for everything, be it wisdom or the sun or the moon or, well, anything I could think of.

A friend of mine recommended Gods Behaving Badly generally to her friends' list a while back but I had forgotten about it, almost completely, until it was on sale at my local bookstore and I ended up buying it. (It meant I had a major case of deja vu when I first read it because I swear I knew this book from the first chapter; and indeed, I did!) The title is a clue to the content, as is the cover art that my boss called "racy": the gods of Olympus are now living on Earth (due mostly to some poor planning) and their powers are dwindling, giving them little choice but to try to "fit in" until they can find a solution to their problem. Artemis walks dogs; her twin, Apollo, is trying up a career as a TV physic; Aphrodite runs a phone-sex line; Eros is a Christian who helps underpriviledged children at the rectory. All is going less-than-well when Apollo promises to stop meddling in the affairs of mortals at approximately the same time that Aphrodite plans to, it sort of all goes awry. Especially since Artemis has just hired Alice to clean their house and she is the key to all of the ridiculousness going down.

Also starring Hermes, Dionysis, Hephasteus, Hades, Persephone, Hera, Zeus, and my personal favorite, Athena. Oh, and some dude named Neil.

Gods Behaving Badly is an exceedingly clever book. It was the one thing I thought consistently through the whole thing: this is really clever. Phillips either really knows her mythology or researched the hell out of it because the gods always seem to have the perfect personalities for their mythological counterparts and really come to life, and I loved all of the personal touches she put on it. Of course, the immortals-versus-mortals is a topic in books that fascinates me (I need to reread The Incarnations of Immortality and review them on here, sometime) but there is a certain zest that Phillips manages in this book that I can't really put into words.

That said, it's not a novel without faults. I felt a few times that it lagged and the ending didn't sufficiently tie up some of the loose ends that it opened; I kept waiting for Artemis to find out about Aphrodite and Eros's plan, and she simply never did. In fact, no one really questioned why Apollo had fallen in love with Alice by the end of the book, just that it happened and now, things had to be fixed. And, while I liked the ending all right, I felt a bit like the clap if you believe in me! type move is best reserved for Tinkerbell and not otherwise brilliant literature.

But these are really small pokes at an otherwise firm and unrelenting book that manages to be hilarious and thoughtful. I can let them slide, in fact. And some of the one-lingers are so c lever that I don't know why I am finding fault with anything in this book, because it just does not seem worth it.

Overall, a very enjoyable and engaging read. 

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
dark_branwen
May. 4th, 2009 12:04 am (UTC)
I assumed that Artemis figured it out, but at that point she didn't really care WHY it happened, just that it needed to be fixed.

Ha, and it totally has a Tinkerbell ending, but I kind of loved that about it. xD
amazonqueenkate
May. 4th, 2009 12:10 am (UTC)
DUDE, I KEEP MEANING TO TELL YOU THIS:

I bought the book and had completely forgotten that you had recced it, so I sat down to read the first chapter and was like, "Wait, what? WHAT?! WHY IS THIS FAMILIAR? I DO NOT -- WHY IS THIS FAMILIAR?!?!"

And then I remembered your rec and it ALL MADE SENSe.

Seriously, though, I wanted Artemis to WANT DEATH. Because she was kickass and I loved her.

And no, I liked the Tinkerbell ending, it was amusing. And Athena being like I WAS TRYING TO TELL YOU THAT!!!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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