This was the first audio book I tried to get through, probably a year ago now, and I just couldn’t do it. I listened to the first two chapters over and over, each time I went for a jog, because I couldn’t focus on the story and would lose track of where I was. I thought it was Lenny Henry, who I’ve never even really found funny as a comedian, but now that I’ve developed a basic attention span, I can see he does a fantastic job on this narration. Quite often during this, I’d listen to him deliver a line and think to myself that it was exactly how I’d imagine Neil Gaiman would have spoken it, based on his self-read work I’ve listened to.
The story is centred around the two sons of west-African spider god Anansi. They rediscover each other after spending a lifetime apart, and some fairly spectacular sibling rivalry occurs. Apparently this novel was conceptualized before American Gods but written, and taking place, after. They’re in the same universe, but really have nothing to do with each other and could easily be read separately. In fact, I’d actually forgotten the Anansi was in American Gods until it was pointed out to me by a friend, but I’m slow like that.
It’s less ambitious than American Gods was, but I think in the end I enjoyed it more. It has a fairly simple plot, especially for Neil Gaiman, and that was a change I enjoyed. American Gods meandered a lot in ways that didn’t really help the story. Anansi Boys‘ plot felt tighter and more polished, and the simpler story did not make it predictable at all. It’s full of Gaiman’s regular whimsy and surprise. The story took a little while to hook me, but I’m sure glad it did.