This was wonderfully bizarre.
The Prey of Gods is a sci-fantasy novel set in South Africa and possibly the weirdest books I’ve ever read, so weird it’s difficult to review it properly.
If you think I’m exaggerating, this book contains:
• a demigoddes running on bot belief
• crab/porpoise drug-induced sex
• an invasion of dik-diks + a lot of dik-dik jokes
• also, circumcision
• AI uprising, but in a religious way
• mass murder by angry 10-year-old
• a pop diva who fights with songs
• whippet/iguana hybrids
• and rhionhawks! (rhino/lion/hawk)
• virus-carried superpowers
• resurrection and bodyswap
Every time I thought this book couldn’t possibly get weirder, it did. Not always with the best results, as sometimes the characters’ decisions didn’t make any sense and plot developments seemed to come out of nowhere, but it was so surreal and completely nonsensical I didn’t even question them that much?
Like, suddenly that character’s mother is a controlling snake monster? Cool, I guess.
But this doesn’t mean The Prey of Gods didn’t explore any interesting themes. Family is really important here, as the motivations of many characters have something to do with it – controlling parents, grieving and neglectful mothers, fear of disappointing family expectations, being disappointed by your own family.
Also, this book buried the bury-your-gays trope in the best way. Resurrect your gays, always.
I really liked the characters, even though sometimes their decisions made no sense. The book followed five PoVs:
• Muzikayise “Muzi” McCarthy, a teenager of Irish and Xhosa descent, who is in love with his best friend Elkin (yes, there’s a m/m romance) and may have a really interesting power;
• Sydney Mazwai, an ancient demigoddes who wants to become feared and powerful once again, and must feed on the human beings she’s torturing without being late to work – the nail salon is important;
• Clever 4-1, an “alphie”, Muzi’s bot, who is realizing he can think, and therefore he is;
• Stoker, councilperson by day and drag singer by night, realizes she’s actually a trans woman during the course of the book and changes her name to Felicity.
• Nomvula, a 10-year-old Zulu demigoddes who really likes fixing things and just wants to be loved;
• Riya Natrajan, a pop idol with multiple sclerosis and a complicated family situation.
Sydney was the only character who didn’t convince me – she went from complex antagonist to flat supervillain in just a few chapters – but I really liked the others, even Riya, who was very unlikable (I didn’t love the theme of pain as a superpower, though). Nomvula was a realistic representation of what would happen if a child got superpowers – children are scary sometimes. Muzi and Elkin had an interesting arc and I loved them. And I really liked how Felicity Stoker’s storyline showed that you’re never too late to question your gender. It’s not common to see this kind of story with characters in their 40s.
My rating: ★★★½