I finished reading Anansi Boys over the Christmas break, and have been meaning to write up some thoughts about it since then. To start off with, I’m a big Neil Gaiman fan. I’ve read the Sandman series a couple of times and was profoundly influenced by it during college. Since he’s moved over to writing more narrative fiction, though, nothing has caught me as strongly.
Except Anansi Boys that is! This book finally captured the mythology I associate with Gaiman, and merged it seamlessly with the tone of his writing. Anansi Boys is more comic than some of Gaiman’s other works, and it felt a lot like just talking to him or reading his excellent blog. It had some really funny moments that had me in stitches, and those scenes often were so hilarious because of the characters and the situations that he’d set up–the sort of jokes that you can’t really explain to someone, you just had to be there. His keen eye for detail and strong, unique descriptions also built into the whole atmosphere of the novel.
The story is well-constructed, with little sign-posts along the way that make you think you know where he’s headed. However, many of the things I expected to happen didn’t, and instead the clues turned on their heads into something different and far more satisfying. I don’t typically try to second-guess where an author’s taking me, but he quite deftly set up expectations and then fulfilled them in a way I couldn’t have anticipated.