Title: Anansi Boys
Author: Neil Gaiman
Published: September 26, 2006
Length: 10 hours and 5 minutes
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Neil Gaiman is two for two now.
Once upon a time, a *lonely middle schooler randomly plucked The Graveyard Book off the shelves of her school library. It was by an author named Neil Gaiman, the same man who wrote the scariest movie she had seen in her pubescent life, Coraline. The girl was temporarily transported to a cemetery in England where she fell in love with the ghosts, witches, and other mystical creatures who walked the grounds. The book became one of her most beloved memories.
For years, she told herself that she would visit further stories by the man who penned her favorite quote, “Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.” Finally, after a few years shy of a decade, she clicked play on an audiobook by the author in discussion and was once again immersed into a fantastical story that begun this time in… Florida.
Lonely middle schooler was totally not me. I had level 10 people skills by the age of eleven that did not include hiding in the library during lunch 😬 .
Many people have heard the tales of wit about the great spider god of stories called Anansi. But, fewer people know about his sons Fat Charlie and Spider or the details surrounding the events that followed their father’s untimely death. For one thing, Fat Charlie didn’t know he had a brother, and he most certainly didn’t know that his father was a god. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman recounted the ripple effect of Anansi’s passing through the lens of a distant but omniscient observer to create an imaginative yet believable story.
Truly, that’s all you need to know about the novel to read it, but this is a book review, not a blurb 😅.
From the get-go, Fat Charlie was the type of ordinary protagonist I could identify with. He lived his life within the walls of his comfort zone that he built up as protection from embarrassing himself. Really, that’s all he wanted: to live an ordinary, embarrassment-free life. Throughout the story, I sympathized with his desire for normalcy as his world was turned upside down. But above all, I felt for his deeper wish to live freely and uninhibited by his anxieties.
Spider was everything Fat Charlie wasn’t. He was suave, care-free, and commanded the attention of those around him. While Spider walked around oblivious to how he was upending Fat Charlie’s life, I couldn’t help but become captivated by his personality and antics. In short, he was a lovable asshole.
Put together, the pair got into comical situations that spiraled further and further out of control until they were more life-threatening than funny (—but still funny).
“It’s easy to say true things in the dark.”
Neil Gaiman is one of those special authors who makes his craft seem so easy. I never found myself lost in purple prose, and Anansi Boys flowed in a way that made me think this is how stories should be written. He didn’t seem like he was trying to impress the reader with incredible insight or showy words. Instead, every part of the book felt intentionally included to give the greater story the spotlight it deserved.
In the end, Gaiman wrapped up the novel with a rewarding conclusion that cinematically weaved together multiple plot-lines and short tales of Anansi.
Anansi Boys was a masterpiece about the power of story telling and the stories we tell ourselves about our person. I’m sure it’ll make you laugh out loud at least once and make you think twice before killing another spider.