Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review: Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez

Divine MisfortuneDivine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is probably the lightest thing I'll read for a book club, ever. I'd wanted to read it for some time, so I was happy to do so as part of a group, where we could pull out some deeper concepts within it. Mostly, though, it's fluffy and funny, and a very fast read.

Divine Misfortune takes place in a world where faith has nothing to do with religion. Gods exist, people can interact with them, and almost everyone has a shrine to their god, where they make regular sacrifices. Teri and Phil have resisted inviting a deity's influence into their home, until a spectacularly bad day has Phil searching online for one that will bless them without asking too much. They settle on Luka, god of prosperity, who shows up and announces he'll be staying with them a while.

Then things get weird.

Several aspects of the world are explored. Quetzalcoatl (Quick for short) moons around Teri and Phil's house, lamenting his lost followers. A former goddess of love latches onto a hapless woman named Bonnie, whose luck soon changes for the worse. Much, much worse. There's a visit to the realm of dreams, and a rivalry, and the ultimate deus ex machina smackdown.

As entertaining as the story is, there isn't a lot to it. Depicting the gods as just as petty and flawed as humans has been done since the Greeks started telling stories (that we know of), and the choosing of a god seems far more analogous to dating than religion. Teri and Phil's main conflict is in getting Luka (aka Lucky) to behave as a god should, which limits their actions within the narrative. The book is mostly Lucky's story, so framing it around Teri and Phil leads to some disappointment.

It was still an entertaining and fun read, though, and I will be reading more of Martinez's particular brand of absurdist humor. I'll just know not to expect a deep reading, in the future.


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