Last God Standing
Author: Michael Boatman
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: March 2014 (US/Canada/ebook); April 2014 (UK)
Creator. Supreme being. Stand-up comic…?!
When God decides to quit and join the human race to see what all the fuss is about, all Hell breaks loose.
Sensing his abdication, the other defunct gods of Earth’s vanquished pantheons want a piece of the action He abandoned.
Meanwhile, the newly-humanised deity must discover the whereabouts and intentions of the similarly reincarnated Lucifer, and block the ascension of a murderous new God.
How is he ever going to make it as a stand-up comedian with all of this going on…?
The Ultimate in Divine Comedy…
I must admit, it took me a while to write this review. I had to think about the book for a while, and ultimately, I just ended up wanting to like it more than I did. The premise is great, the fact that it’s a comedy is great, and really, the idea that God decides to become a stand-up comic? Awesome.
However. For me, the book fell just a little bit flat. Oh, don’t get me wrong — it’s actually quite funny. The author is actor Michael Boatman (yes, that Michael Boatman), so you know he knows comedy. (Aside: am I dating myself by saying I remember him from Spin City?)
The protagonist is a mortal Yahweh, aka Lando Calrissian Darnell Cooper. Lando Calrissian, you guys. I KNOW.
Anyway. Lando gave up his godness to be one of us, though he decides to become a stand-up comic for whatever reason. (Surprising, really, since God didn’t seem to have a sense of humor in the Bible, hehe.) Lando gets called to fight gods who pop out of nowhere and challenge him to Divine Duels, which seemed weird because isn’t he mortal now? I mean, a) that’s totally not playing fair, and b) how would he be able to call up divine Aspects (which he did), if he was mortal? (Philosophy aside, the duels were pretty damn funny.)
But then! The other gods start to disappear — as in Lando could no longer sense their divinity (I have no idea how he would be able to do that in the first place, if he was mortal). Which was a bit sad, because I like Zeus.
And THEN it turns out that another deity, who’s known as The Coming, has their sights set on the top god job. Lando, of course, thinks it’s his old nemesis, Satan/Lucifer. But, you know, appearances can be deceiving, people change, yada yada. Of course, they have the ultimate Divine Duel. (But first, a side trip to a parallel universe! For real.)
All in all, it was an interesting book. It was funny, had a great premise, and it had really interesting characters. So why didn’t I like it? Ultimately, it was because I felt it was a bit all over the place in parts, and because there were plot questions that weren’t answered.
What I did like was the humor. Michael Boatman is funny, and it shows in his writing. I thought some parts were hilarious (I may or may not have woken up the baby on occasion. Ahem). I liked that he included gods from different pantheons, not just the go-to Greeks and Romans — Mr. Boatman includes the Irish goddess The Morrigan, and my favorite character, Connie, is the Navajo goddess Changing Woman. Also, I’m not going to lie, I thought Mr. Boatman’s portrayal of the angels was hilarious. I have never seen archangels shown in quite that way.
Having said that, what fell flat for me was the seeming randomness of some of it. That parallel universe — what was up with that?! Granted, it was an interesting idea and the universe itself was well-formed, but the whole plot thread, while executed well, just came completely out of left field. Parts of the book also read like a script, which made it harder to follow.
As I mentioned earlier, I had some unanswered plot questions. Okay, so for many people these plot points may not matter. But I, being my geeky self, was actually a bit distracted by these (no, really). I mean, what exactly happened to the other pantheons when they lost prominence? Did they become mortal? Did Yahweh know what happened? What happened to the other gods when Yahweh/Lando could no longer feel their divinity? Did they die? Cease to exist? And if Yahweh became mortal (becoming Lando in the process), why — and how — could he access parts of his divinity and god-like powers?
Ultimately, I loved the idea behind this book. I like comedy, I like fantasy, and I like religion/spirituality/myth (I also like religious irreverence; I loved Christopher Moore’s Lamb). This book rolled all those things into one little package. Unfortunately, in the end the book just wasn’t for me. I have no doubt that other people will love it, though. I would like to give more of Michael Boatman’s books a try, so I’ll keep an eye out for more of his books.
If this book sounds like something that would interest you, I do encourage you to give it a read.