Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gods Behaving Badly - Marie Phillips

2007; 292 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Fiction; Humor.  Overall Rating : 6½*/10.

    You won't find any Greek gods on Mt. Olympus anymore.  Most of them now live in a house in London that they purchased way back in the 1600's.  Artemis is a professional dog-walker.  Aphrodite is doing phone sex.  And Apollo just shot the pilot for a phony clairvoyant TV show.

    They're all lousy housekeepers, so they've hired a (mortal) cleaner.  Who by a strange coincidence is...

What's To Like...
    This is a light-hearted read that also asks some weighty questions.  Why should we assume the Greek gods aren't around nowadays?  What do we really know about the afterlife?   If we could live forever here on earth, would we get bored?  How would we act if we were immortal?

    The two human protagonists are a cleaning lady and a nerdy engineer.  How kewl is that?  There's Romance and Sex; yet strangely, they never appear together.  Any book that showcases Greek mythology is a plus for me.  And the whole Underworld portion of the tale is fascinating.

Kewlest New Word...
Derisory : ridiculously small or inadequate.  (Get your mind out of the gutter; here it refers to a paycheck).

    "You did what?" said Aphrodite, rising to her feet...
    "I...," said Apollo.  "I..."
    "You wouldn't heat up so much as a cupful of water for me, and yet you were willing to waste gallons of your power on transmogrifying some stupid mortal slut?"
    "She wasn't a slut," said Artemis.  "Not with him anyway.  I think that was the problem."  (pg. 16)

    In the kind of novels that Neil sometimes read in secret, this would be the moment when the hero took the heroine in his arms, pressed his lips roughly to hers, and then ravaged her.
    "I've got Scrabble on my Palm Pilot," he said.  "Multiplayer."  (pg. 23)

    "We haven't got the sun, we haven't got Apollo, and if we don't work together to keep the earth going, the world is going to end."
    "And then all the mortals will die?" said Hades.
    "And this is a bad thing?"  (pg. 261)

"That isn't a lady.  That's a goddess."  (pg. 248)
    The underlying premise in Gods Behaving Badly - that of old deities still hanging around - is neat but not original.  This is Gaiman's 'American Gods' done a bit more lightly; or Pratchett's 'Pyramids' done a bit more raunchily.  There was even an old episode from the original (black & white!) Star Trek series that explored this theme.  But it's always nice to see a fresh take on it.

    There are some weaknesses.  The original conflict (which we won't detail here; this is a no-spoilers blog) is never resolved.  The R-rated language and situations serve no purpose.  The ending is somewhat prosaic.  The pacing felt choppy.  If you aren't versed in Greek mythology, you may find the gods to be 2-D.

    Still, it was an entertaining read, and I don't think Marie Phillips intended to write an epic.  Gods Behaving Badly is her debut book, and ANAICT, she hasn't penned any more.  Which is a shame because this had a "diamond in the rough" feel to it.  Once her style is polished up, her creative imagination will undoubtedly shine through.  6½ Stars.

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