Sunday, June 15, 2008

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

Book Description:
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?

This was a really fun, delicious, quick read, a brilliant, irreverent, sexy ride. I really liked it! Just a short little book under 300 pages. Was it high brow reading? No, but it was a lot of fun. I can imagine this being made into a movie, it has the British satire of Monty Python (but not too over the top), and the humorous reality of a Nick Hornby novel.

As the description says, all the "big" Gods live together in this crumbling house in London. They have various jobs that are perfect for what kind of God they are and modern conveniences such as cell phones. Aphrodite's is perfect, she's a phone sex girl - so throughout the book she has her Bluetooth in her ear, speaking out loud to her various "clients" - very funny. Her cell phone ringtone is "Venus" by Bananarama - perfect. Aphrodite is someone you don't want to piss off though. Apollo does, and she, being a goddess, seeks revenge upon him (as revenge is in all gods and goddesses DNA).

The story revolves all around Apollo and the turn of events that take place due to Aphrodites revenge. He is the sad sack in this story, despite his movie star good looks and physique, he's a loser. But, being a complete egomaniac, having to be the center of attention, so he is in this book as well! He tries to get a job as some sort of "seer" on his own TV show (cable, of course) and it's a total flop (plus a hilarious bit of him with a god-almighty hard on!) But, in the pilot audience is Alice and Neil, a shy, budding couple. Aphrodite gets her "born again" son, Eros, to make Apollo fall in love with Alice, and then has Hermes help with having Alice show up at their house to become a housekeeper. From there, all hell breaks loose, wrapping up with a big rescue at the ending and a parable on preserving and saving the earth from man.

There are so many very clever things in this book, I just can't list them all. Some sex (but only between the gods and goddesses themselves), it's all so ridiculous and if you are at all familiar with Greek mythology you'll really get a kick out of this book, although it's not a prerequisite to reading it. Ordinary mortals like Alice and Neil are perfect foils to these crazy gods, they're just so normal and down to earth. It's fun to see how their world is shaken up (sad too in some ways) by the gods, but all is resolved eventually.

The things I liked best about it are how the author brings these gods and goddesses to life in the present with their various mundane jobs and personalities. Ares, the god of war is constantly busy with the wars going on in the world, always working away with his maps and stuff, and just his presence in a room can make mortals start to fight with one another. Hermes, the messenger of the gods is the busiest of them all, and is always rushing around, pressed for time in his immaculate suit, and little wings on his ankles and hat-cell phone always at the ready. Aphrodite is perfectly bored and beautiful - she lives for love and looking good, everyone has slept with her, she's the most self centered and selfish of the gods - but everyone accepts this in her - she's Aphrodite after all! Artemis, the huntress is kind of out of her element. Hunting is being banned in England and she as a goddess, doesn't have much of a purpose anymore. She's a dog walker by occupation, since she had to get rid of her own (they couldn't afford to feed them any longer.) She's the moral element in the book and is central to the plot. She's the only one in the house that seems to care about anything. Demeter, goddess of the earth is gradually failing, she is growing old, and she can no longer keep things alive - the parable in the book. Athena is so smart, but can't get her thoughts across to anyone, she's so over their heads - it all just sounds like a bunch of gobbledygook!

I could go on and on, it's all perfectly funny and a great satire. I read this in one day, do yourself a favor and read it, it's a lot of fun!



Michele at Reader's Respite said...

Love your review! And Ares just cracked me up throughout the whole book....starting a land war in Asia, lol!

Julie said...

Thanks, in reading your review, I realized how much I loved it, I really should have given it a higher rating in hindsight.

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