I thoroughly enjoy Neil Gaiman's novels. I loved American Gods and The Graveyard Book and also really liked Stardust. He writes so elegantly. He's got panache. I think even if you are not a fantasy fan, if you started reading a book by him, you'd have difficulty putting it down. If you are familiar with the American Midwest and haven't read American Gods, you are missing out on a fantastic experience. Have you ever read a book and thought, "Ohmigoodness, this author has lived my life. He knows everything I did as a child and has the exact same memories I do!"? Well... if you're from the Midwest, that is the exact reaction you will have to American Gods. The House on the Rock plays a major part in the book, that's all I have to say.
But back to Anansi Gods. I can't be sure, but I think if you live in Florida and have some Caribbean blood in you, then you might have that same affinity for this book that I had for American Gods.
I really enjoyed the intricacy of this novel. I loved how complex the familial relationships were. I have siblings myself and I could definitely understand the intensity of the love/hate feelings that existed. Yes, I love my brother and sister. But I also take out a lot of anger and frustration and all sorts of other emotions on them that I never would on anyone else. And I know they see the serious flaws in my nature and personality better than anyone else. It's scary when someone knows you that well, and knows how to push those buttons to get you really angry. But at the same time... it's impossible not to stand up for someone who knows you so well. Gaiman gets that. And he writes it into his story.
I don't know if this is really allowed, but I think I would have liked this story much better if Spider was not so...cruel. Yes, he's the cool, fun, suave brother who lives dangerously and has the tough guy act down. But he's just not a nice person. And so I could never really warm to him. Maybe dangerous, mean guys are supposed to seem very vulnerable and deep, but I honestly just wanted to throw a glass of red wine at Spider while he was wearing a white shirt for much of this book. If I had to choose between the two brothers, I'd choose Charlie. But he was a bit dull and "go ahead, walk all over me, I won't do anything to stand up for myself," which I didn't much care for, either. Frankly, I didn't much care for any of the characters except for one fabulous former dancer who gets fed up with someone and decides to take matters into her own hands.
As a matter of preference, characters can really make a story for me. I no doubt will get around to telling you all exactly why once I get back on track with my "How important is ____ to you?" Sunday Salon posts. Plot is important, too, but is secondary to likable characters. I didn't love any of the characters in this book, so I didn't love it the way I loved American Gods. I did thoroughly enjoy the plot, though, and the writing was superb. The story is deceptively simple. Gaiman uses pretty short sentences and I don't remember him using big, hard-to-understand words that required context clues to decipher. He tells the story simply and elegantly- the way that Anansi would probably tell it. I am not sure why, but this book more than any of Gaiman's others really reminded me of Terry Pratchett. The simple language, the disparate story lines all snowballing together to the avalanche of an ending, and the really satisfied feeling you get when you finish the book. So while the characters didn't resonate as much with me as did some of Gaiman's other creations (Oh, Shadow and Bod, how I miss you!), I still thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading this book and I think it's one I'll appreciate more once I have time to reflect back on the story and all it contained within it.