Monday, December 1, 2008

Review: Gods Behaving Badly

Summary: Being a Greek god is not all it once was. Yes, the twelve gods of Olympus are alive and well in the twenty-first century, but they are crammed together in a London townhouse-and none too happy about it. And they've had to get day jobs: Artemis as a dog-walker, Apollo as a TV psychic, Aphrodite as a phone sex operator, Dionysus as a DJ.

Even more disturbingly, their powers are waning, and even turning mortals into trees--a favorite pastime of Apollo's--is sapping their vital reserves of strength.

Soon, what begins as a minor squabble between Aphrodite and Apollo escalates into an epic battle of wills. Two perplexed humans, Alice and Neil, who are caught in the crossfire, must fear not only for their own lives, but for the survival of humankind. Nothing less than a true act of heroism is needed-but can these two decidedly ordinary people replicate the feats of the mythical heroes and save the world? -- Back Bay Books

When I read the description for GODS BEHAVING BADLY by Marie Phillips, I have to admit that I was a little intrigued. I have always been interested in mythology since way back in high school when I took Latin. I even took an elective on all types of mythology during my freshman year in college. For some reason, I think the stories about the various gods and goddesses are so interesting. So I couldn't help but want to read GODS BEHAVING BADLY when I found out that the novel was about many of these same characters.

I can pretty much sum up my thoughts about this book in one word -- UNIQUE. From the characters to the basic premise of the novel to the writing, this book was unlike anything I've ever read. I love that Ms. Phillips took well-known gods and goddesses and placed them in current day London; and she gives each of the characters jobs that fit with their god-like powers like a dj/night club owner, a television psychic and a telephone sex operator. In addition, she has the gods' and goddesses' powers waning because today's society doesn't worship them anymore. She then adds to that mix two mere mortals who get caught up in the gods' lives and eventually find themselves fighting to save mankind. I thought it was just so creative how she combined all these ideas into a very fast-paced and entertaining novel.

I think my favorite part of this novel was the interaction between the various gods and goddesses, especially all of their fighting and power plays. Ms. Phillips chose to have all of these gods living in one dilapidated, chaotic house where they were in very close contact. These characters and their relationships were so outrageous that I found myself laughing out loud quite a few times. Ms. Phillips did an amazing job of incorporating the traditional mythology characters and their stories into this novel. I especially enjoyed all of the references to their god-like responsibilities and powers, not to mention their incestuous relationships. This is probably a good time to warn you that this book is a very irreverent take on Greek mythology and not for the easily offended reader.

If you're free at 1:00 p.m. EST today, you should really stop by BlogTalk Radio and listen in on the GODS BEHAVING BADLY radio show with Marie Phillips (hosted by Hachette Book Group USA.) You can even call in with your questions at (646) 378-0040. I am really looking forward to it because I can't wait to learn more about Ms. Phillips and the background behind her hilarious book. If you aren't able to make the radio show today, you can still listen to the interview at your convenience here.

Check out this entertaining video clip of Ms. Phillips. She offers her ideas about some of the actors and actresses that she sees as characters in GODS BEHAVING BADLY. I agree with her that these people would be perfect as the various gods and goddesses if there is ever a movie version.

GODS BEHAVING BADLY isn't like anything my book club has ever read, but I do think it would be very interesting to discuss. There are some intriguing moral and ethical issues that came up while I was reading this novel. In addition, there is a reading group guide in the back of the book which has some great discussion questions.

Also reviewed at:
Diary of an Eccentric


Anonymous said...

I won this in a blog contest and was hoping to have it in time to read it for today's chat, but it hasn't come yet. I still hope to listen in. Thanks for the review.

S. Krishna said...

This is a great book - I agree that I loved how unique it is!

Anonymous said...

Julie - do you think this book is appropriate for a mature 12 year old reader? My daughter read *everything* and just finished a social studies unit on Greek mythology. I haven't yet read *Gods Behaving Badly* and wonder if some of the themes might be too advanced (?)

Julie P. said...

Dawn -- Absolutely not!!! There is a lot of adult content which I found funny, but definitely not appropriate for a youngster!

Anonymous said...

I agree this is a great book. You might also look into a very cool and funny book called "108th Street". It's about kids in the 1950's, and it would be a good choice for Dawn's 12 year-old as well. Best way to find it is to go to because it's not widely sold. Quite charming.

tom L

Anna said...

I just received this one in the mail today, and I can't wait to get started on it. It sounds like a great read. My daughter saw the cover and cracked up laughing!

Diary of an Eccentric

Unknown said...

I just got this book yesterday and can't wait to start on it!

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Unknown said...

i've always enjoyed mythology and have been waiting for a new twist AND this book delivers with a bang!! thank you for the mystical moments of laughter

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Might have to check into this one. have you read Neil Gaiman's "American Gods"??