11 May 2011



Some of you may well have read Husband dearest's review of this - if like me you haven't (though I knew he hadn't enjoyed the book I didn't want his thoughts to influence me too much) then click HERE.

They say the messiah is alive. He is living in New York. Sleeping with men. Impregnating women. Euthanising the dying, healing the sick. Defying the government and condemning the holy.

If you met him. And he changed your life. Would you believe?
........ Inner front cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Marianngeles): He wasn't nothing special.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 126): We only know, or believe, the Messiah will arrive, and that the arrival could be at any time, or it could have been and we missed it, or it could be now, or it still could be coming, and that's part of the beauty of Messiah, the fact that no one knows.

KEEP IT OR NOT?: This will remain on the shelves and lent out to friends as and when asked.

Firstly, a little more background blurb.

Basically having had a horrendous accident at work and being in a coma for a period of time, Ben Jones (aka Ben Zion, aka the messiah) awakes to find himself experiencing prolonged seizures during which he communicates with God and finds himself having sex with pretty much everyone he meets.

Difficult to know where to start with this novel. Perhaps by letting you know what the author hoped to achieve by writing The Final Testament.

“My goal was not to retell the story of Christ. That has been done, and done well. My goal was to create a new mythology. One that is relevant in a world with nuclear weapons, advanced physics, the internet, genetic testing and manipulation, one where we know homosexuality is not a decision. My goal was to create a mythology, to tell a story, to make a work of art that made sense in a world where we know things that people, and writers, 2000 years ago could never have known or imagined. Whether I was able to do it or not will be determined by readers, and by time, and by history.” James Frey.

Goal accomplished? Well, I suppose it could be argued that Frey certainly created a new mythology. Whether or not people will enjoy this or not is debatable though speaking for myself I can, hand on heart, say, at best, I struggled with it and, at worst, I resented the time spent reading it.

I think this book had great potential, I mean what would happen if the messiah was alive today and living in New York ......... or indeed London or Paris or any other big city you care to mention? The potential for social commentary was huge and yet Frey did not seem to take this opportunity and instead seemed to take the route of trying to shock and offend people. I say trying to shock and offend as personally it did not have this effect on me but rather left me bored and, somewhat, saddened. Bored by the continuous,  repetitive swearing and sexual encounters and saddened by the thought that if the people/writers of 2000 years ago were to be writing today would they really find this a realistic portrayal of life in the 21st century?

The swearing and sexual content aside, though I thought that most chapters being devoted to a different individuals story was interesting and one way of simplifying the novel and avoiding too much confusion over who was who and their relationship with Ben, I was never going to like the style of writing on the whole due to the afore mentioned repetitive nature and the over-usage of certain words (mainly 'f**k', its derivatives, and 'love' which was in fact just another word used instead of this) and, a huge issue with me, the lack of speech marks.

Not a story so much as a rant by the author, the only thing I think I will take away from this book is the internal debate of the rabbi as to whether or not Ben is indeed able to communicate with God or 'a figment of the imagination' as, and I quote the rabbi ......

"This doesn't sound like God as I know or understand God. This sounds like something that might be organic to your injuries, which I don't know the specifics of, but were obviously rather traumatic and related to your brain."

Purchased from Amazon by Hd, this was the 40th book read for my 100+ Reading Challenge.


Mary said...

I really enjoy your reviews - you tell me exactly what I want to know about a book I've never heard of before. I'm pretty sure this is one I won't need to read.

Misha said...

I have just read one book by James Frey which was involved in a lot of controversy. It does seem that the author likes to shock people. I don't think this book is for me.

Marinela said...

Great reviews as always,Petty
Enjoyed it!

Kelly said...

I already knew from reading your husband's review that this wasn't for me, but you've just reinforced that belief.

I always appreciate your honest reviews.

Suko said...

I also appreciate your honesty. I read Frey's first book, his "memoir", but I'm not sure this one is for me, although some of the ideas in the book do seem to be quite thought-provoking.

naida said...

This sounds really different. Your describing it as 'a rant by the author' has me wondering if I'd enjoy it. I liked both you and your husbands reviews.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Sounds like his is in more for the shock and rant than exploring if people would recognize such a character. Too bad. Thanks for the review.

kavita said...

I don't know if i will read it but i do find the book cover little disturbing.

GMR said...

Yeah....the title itself paused me, but umm, after reading about it, that was quite enough for my taste. O-O Kudos to you for seeing it through though and giving us a peek behind the cover.

awitchtrying said...

LOVE the rabbi's quote!! I'm a little bummed it wasn't better and glad I know now. The premise sounds wonderful. Could have been an amazing write, but I think what you said was true, it would have been a great idea for a sweeping social commentary, which we need more and more of as people seem to be so blind to the state of the world.
I like the new layout, love paw-prints!! :)

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

not a good read at all.
the title speaks itself.

another brilliant review,Tracy.

have a great rest of the day.

Jenners said...

This just sounds like a wasted opportunity. You are right ... the idea is really neat but it sounds like he went for shock value rather than really taking it to another level.

StarTraci said...

Well, I think that this will be a skip. Sadly, I like the concept but it sounds like he wrote it with a heavy-handed agenda. Too bad. At least he dudn't say that he met Jesus during his stint in rehab.

How are you, my friend? I was thinking of you during all the`wedding craziness. I think we had more people covering it here than you all did!

Happy week-end!