Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gods Behaving Badly - Book Review

Gods Behaving Badly
By Marie Phillips
Random House Canada
Publishing date - December 4, 2007
ARC copy
Personal Rating R18 (for Language)
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Booklounge (from Random House) sent me this book as a prize for doing a book survey. How nice. When I first saw the title, my first thought was The gods must be crazy.Well if you ever saw those movies (the first one was made in 1980) you'll remember how funny they were. This book is not quite so funny, but it is a great read. The first thing I must mention is the profanity. There is a LOT of profanity (or filthy language) in this book. Including intercourse if you can call it intercourse.

If you ever watched the TV series Hercules, you'll recognize the Gods names. Basically the major Greek Gods - Artemis, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, Ares, Eros, Hermes, Hera and Zeus all live in a shabby house in North London. They've been here since the 16th century because they needed a place to live after their powers became very weak. They could not longer do everything they used to do before. Except Apollo and Artemis. He still makes the sun rise and set every day, and she still makes the moon grow full and and dark every month.

Being Gods they don't need to eat, but they still need to pay the house bills, the power, water, etc, so they found jobs. Apollo needs to be idolized, and he fancies himself as a psychic. So he sets himself up as a pyschic with his own TV show. Aphrodite does phone sex, always walking around with a cell phone clapped to her ear. Hera and Zeus are locked away in the attic, because they are refuse to acknowledge that they are no longer all-powerful.

Into this family comes Alice, a cleaning lady. She used to work at the studio where Apollo had his TV series, and she used her privileges to sneak her boyfriend Neil into the show. The studio boss saw them on TV and sacked her. Alice then needs to find a new job and eventually ends up at the house of the Gods. Where she is hired to clean the house. After 400 years, it was quite filthy because the gods could not lower themselves to do the demeaning jobs.

Apollo is empowered (by Eros) to fall in love with Alice, and when he attempts to rape her, she refuses and leaves. Apollo does not take the rejection at all well. He asks Zeus to kill her. Alice dies in the park from a lightening strike. Neil goes to the Gods house to ask for their help to bring her back. Apollo tries to say he is sorry to Neil for killing his girlfriend, but when Neil rejects Apollo's attempt at an apology, Apollo gets mad, and intends to show Neil who he is dealing with. Apollo points to the sun and BAM the sun goes out. At the same time Apollo collapses to the floor.

(Physics note that the gods dont seem to be aware of. It is a physical impossibility for anyone to make the sun go out instantly - at least from the Earth anyway. It would take a minimum of 8 minutes for such a power to reach the sun)

The rest of the book tells the story of how Neil races to find and rescue Alice and the world before the mortals all die, and bring the gods back to full power. We find out what the underworld is "really" like and how it works. We meet a few new gods and other names from greek mythology such as Hades and Persephone the gods of the underworld, Cerebrus the large three headed dog, and Styx of the river.

As long as you can get past the filthy language, this is actually a very interesting book to read. Not least because noone else has ever thought of writing about the gods. Well, not since Hercules and Xena anyway.

Marie Phillips, the author, has done some very good research for the areas that each god was responsible for. I give this book 3 out of 5. I would make it 4 out of 5 if there was not so much bad language, and and 5 out of 5 if it was funnier. I also read this for the Books around the World Challenge since it is set in London, England.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an entertaining premise!

Jodie Robson said...

I liked your physics note - very useful. I still can't decide whether to read this book. I like the darkness of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and feel this might be too light?

Francesca Thomas said...

Firstly its not published yet. Not until next month. Secondly, I have only seen one Neil Gaiman story - Neverwhere on TV - which I rather enjoyed. But no, I dont think this book is as "dark" as that was. But still, I did enjoy it. Just took a while to get past the language.

Anonymous said...

I thought this book was quite funny, it was easy to read almost straight through.

I also reviewed this book, you can find mine here.