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?
When I read the blurb I found the idea that the Greek Gods are living in contemporary London trying to find back to their original splendour highly original. Unfortunately my husband burst my bubble when he told me callously that Tom Holt had a similar idea a long time ago, only it’s not a ramshackle building in Hampstead Heath but the Sunnyvoyde Residential Home for Retired Deities (Odds and Gods).
This didn’t dampen my spirit though. I still find the idea fascinating, especially since I know a bit about Greek mythology and found the characterizations of the various Gods extremely amusing and fitting.
Apollo who has to try to make a living as an oracle on a trashy TV show with elderly ladies his only audience, Aphrodite making a little money on the side working on a phone sex line, Dionysos owning a seedy club where he plays the DJ and sells his delicious wine to the hip youngsters, the Gods constantly bickering, it was all too funny. There are so many small, delightful ideas in the story that I found it very entertaining and hilarious.
One point that I found slightly strange was that I couldn’t relate to the romantic couple at all, in fact, I thoroughly disliked them both. For me they stayed faceless and inconspicuous. I wasn’t fond of Alice, an unobtrusive girl with a university degree who works as a cleaner because she likes cleaning (I definitely cannot relate to that) and neither did I find Neil attractive. Not because he didn’t look like the typical romantic hero, but because he just didn’t stand out for me in any way at all. The most remarkable thing about those two was that they were totally unremarkable. I understand that they were meant to be that way, but even unremarkable people have some depth, hidden secrets and whatnot and those two just didn’t, at least I never noticed. Yeah, ok, they loved each other and Neil was willing to go to the underworld for Alice, but I have seen better things than that. Or, if those things were not really better, they were pulled off with more panache. Neil was just too boring. And so was Alice.
I found the last part of the story was kind of slow and anti-climatic. The solution to the Gods’ problem was so obvious and so easily achieved that it was sort of unbelievable.
As for the title, I don’t agree with it. The Gods don’t behave badly at all, at least not more than you would expect them to. They just behave like the ordinary Greek God that you know and like. If their behaviour is supposed to be bad they definitely have to kick it up a notch or two.
Summary (courtesy of Carin B. who expressed my feelings better than I did): I enjoyed it, but felt kind of blah at the end. Thanks Carin for helping me out!
||Gods Behaving Badly
||Little, Brown and Company
||Gods Behaving Badly