Rating - 2: not worth reading (skip it)
Another book I decided not to finish. I was excited to read Neil Gaiman and was looking forward to liking it. I did not like it.
"Fat Charlie" Nancy has no particular luck but can console himself with a dreary existence. His father has been embarrassing him his whole life, and he manages to do so again by dying as Fat Charlie prepares for his wedding. Things only get odder as Fat Charlie discovers his father was a god, and his unknown brother inherited the divine powers. Spider certainly makes Fat Charlie's life a different shade of horrid.
Fat Charlie is instantly not likable. He has a few sympathetic characteristics, being an utter milquetoast who can stand in for any insecurity you might have. Whoever you are, you could feel better about yourself for not being as pitiful as him; if you do, you should pity yourself for needing to go this far to find something to make you feel better about yourself.
Fat Charlie's purpose is to suffer. He will suffer some form of physical and/or psychological torment in every scene. If you watched American Pie 3 because you needed new ways to watch Jason Biggs be sexually humiliated, Fat Charlie may be the greatest thing you have ever found. If you physically need another movie in which Ben Stiller gets hit in the crotch, Fat Charlie is a godsend.
The destruction of Earth was perhaps the best thing that could have happened to Arthur Dent, since he lost everything immediately and all at once. There was no lingering suffering as his life was shredded one bit at a time. He would have become an annoying character, wandering about Islington wishing for tea while Ford Prefect acted strangely on the side. Fat Charlie is that tedious, earthbound Arthur Dent.
At what point did the book fully lose me? A little less than half way through, there is a bit where Fat Charlie has been kicked out of his life and is (literally) magically unable to take any steps to improve it; his boss has framed him for embezzlement and is planning to flee the country safely with a pile of money; and his brother is basking in how nice life is now that he is using mind control to rape Fat Charlie's fiance (who was saving herself until after her wedding). 'Cause hey, his brother is a lovable and charming amoral rogue.
There were many moments where things could have turned around. There were prospects of it. I guess those existed just to make it that much more satisfying when things got worse for Fat Charlie instead.
I assume the suffering of the innocent is great entertainment for some. Many, even. I instead learned that you show someone to be deserving of abuse before you let him have it; if the antagonist smacks Harpo around in the first act, all the Marx Brothers can let loose on him for the rest of the show. At the very least, you show the great laid low and let them fight to protect or regain what they have/had. It does not work to start with an unsympathetic loser and hurt him until things get so bad he ineffectually struggles and ends up making things worse.
If suffering nebbishes are your cup of tea, go buy the book now. I had hoped for so much more. At least there were some worthy sentences.