Saturday, 17 June 2017

Being God is a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.

It all begins when God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) takes the cosmic businessgods the Venturi Brothers up on their offer to buy his Creation, with an eye spent to an eternity of  retirement cosmic fishing with his son, Jay. 

The Venturis do things a little differently though: Sin is now permissible in the new belief system--provided you can pay the hefty fines. Right and wrong no longer really matter, if your pockets are deep enough.

Hell, excluded from the bargain due to the complications involved in its being, well, Hell, becomes a tourist destination a la Disneyland, in order to earn enough for its rather significant upkeep. Kevin, God's son (you know, the other one), decides to renounce godhood and live among the humans in order to find himself, dispensing miracles left and right.

But despite the efficient management of the new world order and the remarkable drop in crime rates across the globe, the new regime turns into something like a bland, 1984 nightmare of thoughtcrime and no Christmas holidays.

Can the world live without the concepts of Right and Wrong? Who is the one god left behind by the old management up at the North Pole, and why had we "better watch out" for him?

Tom Holt does it again! With his signature dry wit and observational satire, Tom Holt's latest book is a wonderfully clever story about creation myths and the beings that run them. There are many original and exciting aspects about this universe to love, but my favorite one is the idea that the business of creation is exactly that: a business.

So many things about this story demonstrate Holt's original and highly self-aware way of seeing the world. One of his characters is a larger-than-life but smaller-than-average Indiana Jones type hero, who struggles with the new regime and a love interest who refuses to be reduced to the function of the typical hero's sidekick. She's better than that. Their wonderfully meta discussion of all the tropes of the adventure genre were some of my favorite scenes.

Underneath all the clever dialogue and hilarious metaphysical antics of plot, there's a conversation being had about what morality means when the only choice is to be neutral and passionless or risk of emptying out your bank account when you stub your toe and accidentally say a lot of bad words.

My one quibble with this story would be that it seems to end too early, with a conclusion that almost seems like a letdown after everything. It's a quick, tidying up that runs out the door before you get the chance to say goodbye. 

Tom Holt created a world that I would have happily stayed in longer, but I suppose all good things must come to an end.

(I received an ARC copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)


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