Book Cover
Title Gods Behaving Badly
Series ---
Author Marie Phillips
Cover Art Adam McCauley
Publisher Random House - 2007
First Printing Random House - 2007
Category Humour
Warnings Explicit sexual situations

Main Characters

Artemis, Apollo, Aphrodite, Alice, Neil

Main Elements Gods

Being immortal isn't all it's cracked up to be. Life's hard for a Greek god in the 21st century: nobody believes in you anymore, even your own family doesn't respect you, and you're stuck in a dilapiated hovel in north London with too many siblings and not enough hot water. But for Artemis (goddes of hunting, professional dog walker), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty, telephone sex operator) and Apollo (god of the sun, TV psychic) there's no way out - until a meek cleaning lady and her would be boyfriend came into their lives, and turn the world literally upside down.

Ever since I read the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, I've loved the idea of taking the ancient gods and putting them in a modern setting. And the Greek gods in particular, as they are our strenghts, and especially our weaknesses and vices, taken to extremes.

So when Aphrodite convinces her son Eros to make Apollo fall in love with a hapless mortal who doesn't return the feelings, things don't go so well for said hapless mortal. Alice, a cleaner by profession, ends up losing her job, and with a little bit of influence from a certain goddess, ends up as a cleaner for this divine household *cough* filthy hovel, all kinds of awkwardness ensues.

Now, I expected something that was laugh out loud funny, but it was very...British? The humour was quite dark at times (there was a near rape scene, and the gods being gods, honestly thought of humans as little more than vermin), the story downright sad and depressing (especially for Neil, Alice's true love interest). So wasn't quite the pick-me-up I was looking for.

But then the gods maybe shouldn't be made fun of (hey, what if they really are still out there??). Yes, it was interesting to see what jobs they would have in the modern world. Only Hades remains unchanged over the eons, for even if the living stop believing in the old gods, the day they pop up in the underworld (or a rather bland alternate London) they certainly start to believe in him then!

And why are the gods and goddesses doing meanial jobs (and no housekeeping whatsoever)? Because as people stopped beliving in them they began to lose their powers. Any time they did anything even remotely powerful it risked using up everything had left, and for what it's worth, even if you don't believe in him, Apollo does still power the sun and what would happen if that were to go out...

On the whole, I think it was a good representation of the ancient greek gods living in modern day England. And not just how they would interact with us, but also with each other (imagine living with the same group of people for all eternity, some of which you are incestuously related to and/or attracted to). And also the gods having to deal with immortality, a never ending future of, well, more of the same. No wonder they get bored and start picking on us mortals!

And don't forget shy Neil and mousy Alice. Perfect counterpoints to the beautiful and powerful gods. I really enjoyed them.

Posted: July 2016


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