Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What I'm Reading Now-Gods Behaving Badly: A Novel (part II)

Gods Behaving Badly: A Novel by Marie Phillips-Boy, this one's been a long time coming, which is kind of a surprise because I really liked it. I just haven't felt up to writing reviews lately. (the "part II" in the title is because I put up a placeholder post with the same title for a Weekly Geeks project a few weeks back)

The basic premise is that the Greek Gods (Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, etc.) are still alive and kicking, and they're all living together in a run-down flat in London. The problem is, they are getting old. They may still be kicking, but instead of the Rockettes, think Cloris Leachman on "Dancing With the Stars."

Not that Cloris didn't perform admirably, she's just a bit past her Rockette days is all I'm sayin', as are the gods in Gods Behaving Badly. Athena (goddess of wisdom) is trying to figure out what's going on and if there is a way to fix it, but in the meantime, the gods are supposed to be on their best behavior as using their powers seems to weaken them just a little bit more each time.

Along the way, a mortal couple gets sucked into the gods' lives; Alice is hired to clean the pig pen that the gods call their home-you wouldn't believe how slovenly these folks are!-and Neil, who secretly pines for Alice, gets a little freaked out when he realizes that Apollo is putting the moves on Alice. Well, wouldn't you? I mean, Apollo, for crying out loud! What man wants to compete with that?

Well, things go awry as they often do in these situations, someone ends up in the underworld, someone else has to try to retrieve said person from the underworld, and in the meantime, the world almost ends.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I thought it was witty and entertaining. This was a nice, fun refresher on Greek mythology, but I did find myself having to take notes to remind myself who was the god/goddess of what and how they were related. The Greek gods were a rather incestuous bunch, so it was hard to keep track of how everyone was related, and some of them were in charge of more than just one thing. I don't think this was strictly necessary; it's not as if the whole point of the story would have been lost if you didn't remember that Ares is (according to my notes) the god of war, Apollo's half-brother, Aphrodite's favorite lover, and the father/cousin of Eros. It did help me keep things straight in my head though, and I didn't keep having to go, "Now, which one is she again??"

I laughed out loud several times in this book. One of the first times was during an exchange between Aphrodite (goddess of love, sexual rapture, and beauty) and her son, Eros (god of lust, beauty, love, and intercourse) who has converted to Christianity. Come on, that's funny! Aphrodite, who works as a phone sex operator, is trying to convince Eros to use his powers to play a joke on her nephew/lover, Apollo (god of the sun), who is working as a TV psychic and doesn't think twice about turning women into trees if they refuse his sexual advances. Eros, being a good Christian and all, doesn't want to participate. The following is a bit of the conversation between him and Aphrodite: (Sorry about the formatting here. I keep trying to use blockquotes, and it keeps getting all f-ed up. This is the closest I can get. Does anyone else have massive trouble with blockquotes, and have you found a way around it?)

"No.  I'm not doing it," said Eros, driving straight through.  "It's wrong.  I've been thinking about it all day."
"Wrong?  Who cares about wrong?  You promised me you'd do it!"
"Well, I'm unpromising," said Eros.
"Breaking a promise is wrong too," said Aphrodite.
"It's all relative," said Eros.
"It's not like it's the first time you've done it," said Aphrodite.
"That time was before," said Eros.
"Before what?" said Aphrodite.  "No, don't tell me.  Before Jesus."
"I wouldn't expect you to understand," said Eros.
"I understand perfectly," said Aphrodite.  "You prefer that upstart carpenter--that thief of faith--to your own flesh and blood."
"He's a better role model," said Eros. (p.27) 

Ha! Ya think?? Also, you know you're having a bad day if you ever have to make this phone call: "...you'd better come quick. I've got a god passed out on my kitchen floor and I think the world's about to end." (p.213)

Have you read this? I'd like to hear some other thoughts on Phillips' twist on Greek mythology.

Some other reviews/thoughts on Gods Behaving Badly:

If you've reviewed this book on your blog, let me know, and I'll add you to the list.


Jeanne said...

Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood for this book. Or maybe, like the little boy in The Princess Bride, I just need your "good parts version"!

Dreamybee said...

Both very possible explanations!