Sunday, December 2, 2007

REVIEW: Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

Published December 10, 2007 by Little, Brown. Click on the photo to check availability with your local Booksense-affiliated bookseller.

Think of Gods Behaving Badly as Bulfinch's Mythology meets Frenemies. Gods is a playful, and at times suspenseful and moving, story about Greek gods and goddesses, faded and forgotten but alive and sharing a flat in London. And getting into all kinds of trouble with the mortals.

By all accounts, the deities are managing to get by all right in 21st century Britain. Aphrodite works as a phone sex operator. Athena is a pie-chart-toting, Powerpoint-presenting brainiac. Dionysus runs a hip nightclub. We get our first hint that world is in trouble when Demeter, goddess of plants, can't make her garden grow. Then vain, domineering Apollo falls hopelessly in love with mousy, sweet Alice, a mortal cleaning woman. Trouble is, Alice loves Neil, a nerdy engineer devoted to her. But Apollo, god of the sun, is used to getting his way.

The plot takes us from a TV studio to a dirty, falling-down townhouse to the underworld and Hades' palace, and then back again for a very satisfying finale. I loved all the details from mythology, and the way that the myths are reimagined and incorporated into a contemporary setting. My favorite detail was the way the dead get to the underworld- via a special Tube station behind a false wall. The underworld itself is a fascinating place- in Phillips' version, the dead have their own society with its own rules and conventions. It's almost just as interesting to be dead as to be alive.

I enjoyed Gods Behaving Badly a lot. It's a romp- funny and sweet, it features a full pantheon of gods and Phillips puts them to appropriate, amusing and plot-enhancing use. It's a fun read, and there's not much more to say. It's well-written, well-plotted, and has engaging characters and a sweet romance at its core. I'm glad I got to read it.

Rating: BEACH

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.