Sunday, October 05, 2008

Gods Behaving Badly

I've been on a comics-reading kick lately, which means I haven't devoted much free time (and I have a good amount of it now that I'm no longer in school) to reading prose (or writing prose, but that's another matter entirely). Edgy's review of Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips, though, piqued my curiosity enough to not only read prose but to read 300 pages of prose that is not young adult fiction.

This epic story of Greek gods living in a dilapidated house in twenty-first-century London and the mortals they drag into their power struggles is utterly delightful. Phillips's reimagining of the mythic gods is at once cleverly original and true to the source material. If Homer were writing today this is exactly how Artemis, Apollo, Aphrodite, and all the rest would look and behave. On top of that, though, Phillips adds a layer of humor that makes this fun to read and an engaging plot that makes it difficult to put down. The story is filled with twists and turns that surprise while at the same time feeling entirely natural and logical. Perhaps I'm most impressed by this because it's a weakness in my own writing, but I'm in awe of the way Phillips allows her plot to be driven by well-developed characters; she fleshes them out completely, lets them do what they want to do, and the story is built naturally on the consequences of their actions. The novel opens, for example, with Artemis and Aphrodite forcing Apollo to swear not to harm mortals, and everything that happens afterward depends on that simple act, with the conflicting motivations of major and minor characters adding layer upon layer of complexity to the butterfly effect of events.

And I even liked it despite the fact that library gave me a copy with the other cover.


Rebecca said...

Sounds fun - I think I shall add it to my "want to read" list. I just read "Never Let Me Go," which was GREAT, except that the ending was shite.

Mr. Fob said...

I'll remember to skip the ending when I read the book.