Sunday, August 11, 2013
A Fortunate Read
A. Lee Martinez Reviewed by Carol Recommended for: people who almost liked John Dies at the End, people who like humorous fantasy Read from July 17 to 19, 2013 ★ ★ ★ 1/2
Divine was the perfect little quickie, a fast irreverent read at a time when I couldn’t give a book quality attention. You know how it is–some books deserve contemplation (Claire DeWitt, I’m talking to you), some require intellectual engagement (China is notorious for this), some insist you immerse in their world (Sanderson, you’re so demanding), some want your emotional commitment (I usually avoid the needy ones). But Divine doesn’t require any more than availability.
Based in a current version of America populated by the gods, Divine doesn’t break any new ground, but does have fun playing with old myths. Phil, the main character, was recently denied a promotion and discovers his competitor’s edge is his supportive divinity. On the way home, he’s in a minor fender bender (“The other driver pulled out a special knife and ran it across his palm, drawing some blood to offer to his god as he incanted, “Blessed by Marduk, who keeps my insurance premiums down”) and pulls into his driveway only to discover his neighbor now has the only perfect lawn in the subdivision, courtesy of a lawn service that worships Demeter. Phil decides he needs a god of his own and convinces his reluctant wife to choose a deity from Pantheon.com.
What they select is an amenable raccoon-headed god of minor good fortune. What they get is a raccoon version of You, Me and Dupree, a Hawaiian shirt wearing food hound, throwing parties for the gods and inviting his Mayan god friend Quetzalcoatl to crash on the couch (“Y’know, he was only joking about the alter thing,’ said Quick. ‘I was never into human sacrifice, even when it was legal.’ ‘Oh, I know. Conquistador propaganda.’”). Adjusting to life with a couple of gods isn’t easy for the straight-and-narrow Phil and Teri, and it’s even harder when strange things start happening.
Truly, it’s just simple fun. The plot is decent and the countering evil actually seems evil. There is an interesting parallel storyline with a former goddess of love spreading gloom and despair ever since being dumped–her discovering a new line of work was amusing. There’s a multitude of small bits like that, little common twists on deification that entertained me with their absurdity. Something about Charion bringing a dead potted plant as a house-warming gift and a Fury enforcing subdivision covenants entertains me. It does get a little absurd by the end, but it never veers so far out of control that it verges on acid fantasy, ala John Dies at the End.
Leave an offering of a worn copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide and a homemade bookmark and the god of quick reads will oblige.