Anansi Boys is loosely related to American Gods, but each book stands alone and tells an independent story. The main connection is that Anansi is one of the gods we meet in American Gods, often referred to as Mr. Nancy.
Anansi himself doesn’t really show up in Anansi Boys all that much, but he’s referred to a great deal and several stories are told about him. Our main character is Charlie, Anansi’s son, who is quite ordinary, shy, and easily intimidated. At the beginning of the book, we read about Charlie’s childhood and the things his father Anansi did to embarrass him. Before long, we catch up to Charlie as he’s living his adult life, which is quite an ordinary life. Then, of course, something happens, and Charlie’s life starts to get pretty strange and not very pleasant.
Charlie was a funny and interesting character. He starts off kind of spineless, and I was afraid he would get annoying, but he slowly started to get more assertive. The story was interesting. Between the blatant foreshadowing and the hints, I can’t say anything about the story was terribly surprising, but it held my interest. Toward the end, I thought some things happened that stretched the boundaries of credibility, even considering the subject matter. I was really enjoying the book up to a point, but I started feeling a little less enthusiastic by the end.
This had a very different tone than American Gods. I enjoyed both books, but for different reasons. By comparison, I thought American Gods was darker, meatier, and more serious. Anansi Boys was lighter, hilariously funny at times, and sometimes downright silly. I couldn’t really say which one I liked best. During the first half of this book, I would have said I liked Anansi Boys better. Now that I’ve finished it, I’m leaning toward American Gods.