Title: Gods Behaving Badly
Author: Marie Phillips
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books): “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?”
Thoughts: Read in a desperate attempt for escapist literature, Gods Behaving Badly delivered that and so much more. This modern-day morality tale is equal parts funny and tragic as well as 100 percent entertaining. It lived up to its description of a fun read while teaching what it means to be a hero.
Quite surprisingly, Gods Behaving Badly is not all humor and fun. It has its tragic moments as well. The idea of a group of powerful people, immortal or not, failing to adapt properly to its environment is depressing. Living in squalor and reliving the glory days are no way to go through life. Yet, in spite of its tragic undercurrents, this failure to adapt on the part of the gods creates some of the wittiest scenes in the novel. Their child-like attitudes do not mesh well with modern-day pragmatism, causing misunderstandings and other tongue-in-cheek moments that are as enjoyable as they are uncomfortable.
Alice and Neil make for two unlikely heroes. As the complete opposite of the gods, they are quite literally everything they are not. Prudish and chaste, nervous and shy, their simplicity belies their strength of character and determination. They are the epitome of the underdogs, and readers definitely root for their success. Readers want them to succeed not because they want the gods to succeed but because Neil and Alice represent the power of the every man. Their struggle becomes the reader’s struggle against impossible odds.
One cannot discuss a novel about gods without discussing the idea of faith. Some of the most amusing points in the novel occur when Eros discusses Christianity with his siblings. This amusing what-if scenario is a twist on our modern belief system and well worth considering the power of faith.
Ultimately, Gods Behaving Badly is not meant to stand up to scrutiny. It is meant to be what it is – an enjoyable, lighthearted screwball comedy with a hidden message about taking oneself too seriously and the hero that lies inside each of us. One couldn’t ask for better when searching for escapist literature.