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The Revelations [Paperback]

Alex Preston
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Kindle Edition 4.49  
Paperback 4.95  
Paperback, 2 Feb 2012 9.02  

Book Description

2 Feb 2012

A group of young people are searching for meaning in a dark and directionless world. The Course, a religious movement led by a charismatic priest, seems at first to offer everything the friends have been looking for: a community of bright, thoughtful, beautiful people. But as they are drawn deeper into the Course, money, sex, and God collide, threatening to rip them apart.

This gripping novel of ideas lays bare a world where the advancement of a movement becomes more important than the lives of its followers

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The Revelations + This Bleeding City
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (2 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571277586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571277582
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 435,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alex Preston was born in 1979 and lives with his family in London. His first novel, This Bleeding City, won the Spear's Best First Book Award and the Edinburgh International Festival Readers' First Book Award and was selected for Waterstone's New Voices 2010. It has been translated into twelve languages.

His second novel, The Revelations, published by Faber in February 2012, tells the story of a group of young people who fall into a sinister religious movement. It was named as one of GQ's "100 Best Things in the World" and was one of the Financial Times' 2012 Fiction Picks.

His latest book, In Love and War, is set in 1930's Italy.

Alex appears regularly on BBC television and radio and writes for GQ, Harper's Bazaar and Town & Country Magazine as well as for the Observer's New Review.

He teaches Creative Writing at the University of Kent and regular Guardian Masterclasses.

Alex loves: WG Sebald, JM Coetzee, Donna Tartt, Alan Hollinghurst, Roberto Bolaño, Don Paterson, Anne Michaels, JD Salinger.

Product Description


'Alex Preston's debut novel, This Bleeding City, was published to high acclaim in 2010. It was the first really successful credit crunch novel ... the creepy mindset of David Nightingale, who sets out to dominate a group of young and middle-aged people like an American cult leader, makes for a very gripping story ... compulsively readable ... I was electrified by the oddity of all the characters. At times especially when they are all together on the retreat I thought of Iris Murdoch's 1958 novel The Bell, about a collection of religious weirdos, and wondered whether Preston would do for the evangelicals of 2012 what Murdoch had done for the tormented high church homosexuals.' --A.N. Wilson, Financial Times

'This is a cleverly conceived novel, pitched between commercial and literary. It's intensely readable and feels honest and authentic in its intentions and execution ... Preston's characters may be preachy (although they have serious misgivings about whether they believe in what they're saying) but the novelist himself is not. He lets us form our own conclusions about who is to blame for what. This book is intelligently questioning and analytical about religion generally and Christianity specifically.' Viv Groskop, Observer --Viv Groskop, Observer

'This is a dark, enticing story with echoes of Donna Tartt's The Secret History. It is well paced and gripping throughout, even in the difficult middle where a lot of books falter. This is the work of a talented writer with much more to come.'

Book Description

The new novel from the author of the critically acclaimed This Bleeding City

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Banal 5 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This sounded like a really interesting idea for a book in the reviews I read. It sounded like an interesting read. (I am not religious, which is irrelevant to this review other than to note that I have no axe to grind in any direction in this review).

However this has to be one of the poorest books I have read in recent years. The characters are flat, lifeless and predictable. The scenes are flat, lifeless and predictable - and extended by many tedious flashbacks which drain yet more immediacy from the action.

Two thirds of the way through, no discernible plot had been uncovered. When the plot did finally come lumbering into view it was totally predictable. At a number of points I felt I must have been reading John Crace's Digested Read version in the Guardian, such was the parodic weight of the writing - but if only I had been, it all would have been over so much sooner!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unrealistic 6 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you think that all Christians are hypocrites and the Alpha Course is a cult, then this is the book for you. However, if you are more realistic in your outlook then the shortcomings of this book will probably annoy you as much as they annoyed me.

The book follows the lives of four young (late 20s) Christians who are helping run 'The Course' for the first time. They are all musicians and the band they play in (at The Course) is known as 'The Revelations', hence the title of the book. The Course itself is clearly a fictionalised and exaggerated version of the Alpha Course, a popular introduction to Christianity course run by many churches in the UK and beyond. However, in the book, 'The Course' is clearly much more of a cult-like entity rather than being merely an entry point into mainstream evangelical Christianity. Indeed, one of the characters in the book refers to The Course as being a cult.

The book is clearly written by someone who is not a Christian and has issues with Christianity. I've been through an Alpha Course, and been involved with leadership in other similar courses, and as a consequence, the behind-the-scenes bits in this book simply do not ring true at all. Course leaders do not behave like this, talk like that, pray like that or sing worship songs like that. Basically, the Course in the book is so much of a caricature that it is unreal.

I know that not all Christians are perfect and honourable, but I can't believe in the scenario given here where all four characters leading the Course are hypocrites, liars, sexually promiscuous (with course attendees) and get drunk (again with course attendees) all the time. While you do get people like that in Churches, generally they are not invited to lead worship or evangelism groups.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars musings on faith and evangelical belief 30 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was hooked into this by the mention of the London based Christian course that is corrupted by sex, drugs, violence and money. I attended the Alpha course which emanated from Holy Trinity Brompton in the 90s and of course, you wonder if this was the model for the book. The charismatic pastor, even the location and congregation of HTB is echoed - probably too close to the truth for some people. The story itself is the unwinding of friendships but the slight mystery of what happens to Lee wasn't satisfyingly real enough for me. This is a literary novel with much introspection and not much action. However, I enjoyed the musings on faith and evangelical belief.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Incompetent? 5 May 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Perhaps his first novel was a lot better. I do hope so, otherwise I shall lose whatever respect I still have for those who bestow literary awards. If this author was selected for Waterstones New Voices 2010, then I shall stick to reading the works of the "old voices" and continue to buy my books from Amazon!
I thought this novel was so bad that it was almost incompetent.From page one onwards I was embarrassed by the author's lack of imagination and originality in terms of descriptive style, narrative and, most of all, character observation. Apart from the women, every character in this book wore chinos and a white shirt (or maybe a blue one!). Every character smoked and "flicked" his cigarette stub out of the window, into the river etc etc (descriptive device endlessly repeated throughout the book). Every character seemed to get drunk with every other character at every spare moment and/or was having sex. Promiscuous sexual behaviour was central in the development of the character of Lee who, for me, turned out to be the only character with any depth in the book. However, the contrived and repetitious, and sometimes gratuitous, nature of the sex scenes actually detracted from the importance of this theme in the novel. Likewise, the endlessly repeated rounds of drinking and smoking left me, at the end of the novel, with a sense of despair at the superficiality and meaninglessness of the lives of these characters, which, of course, made such a mockery of their so called "faith".

Or am I missing the point? Did our author deliberately parody the empty, banal, faithless lives of the pitiably flat characters of his novel?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not As Exciting As The Reviews Made Out
I read this one when on holidays. I like a book that I find difficult to put down but this was not one of those. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Enda McLarnon
3.0 out of 5 stars STRUGGLE TO COMPLETE
I found this novel rather boring,for me it never seemed to get going.I could not identify with the characters,and I did not really see the point of what they were doing-religion on... Read more
Published 15 months ago by bibliophile
1.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity
Was intrigued by the premise of this book and was hopeful that it would provide a helpful insight into the challenge of living out a faith centred life in the 21st century. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Paul Stokes
1.0 out of 5 stars Bored
Got this for 99p, glad I didn't pay more. Too long, predictable, get something else. I didn't care about any of the characters. The writer, apparently is a critic, hmm....
Published 16 months ago by paj
2.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable characters, dull plot and an axe to grind.
I used to be a part of HTB and indeed work for Alpha, so when I heard about this book I thought it looked like a really interesting read, perhaps a little glimpse into how some... Read more
Published 17 months ago by N Walsh
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull
Poorly written characters with no depth and slow plot line. Sounded good but was very disappointing. Do not recommend to anyone.
Published 19 months ago by Slim
3.0 out of 5 stars way off the mark
I assume this novel is a thinly disguised description of the Alpha course, in which case it is theologically and ecclesiastically way off the mark because:

* The... Read more
Published on 17 Jun 2012 by Mr. D. P. Jay
5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing and thought-provoking, a must read
This is a brilliant book on so many levels. It offers some really interesting insights into the moral dilemmas surrounding faith and living a Christian existence in today's world... Read more
Published on 15 Jun 2012 by RobB
4.0 out of 5 stars The Revelations
The Revelations by Alex Preston.

This is the story of four friends fresh out of university who become involved with an evangelical cult-like Christian religious... Read more
Published on 24 May 2012 by Mr M Carey
5.0 out of 5 stars God With Mamon
Once upon a time Evangelical Christianity picked up the dispossessed of society. In the 21st century, its newer incarnation, 'The Course' seeks out the wealthy and connected, in... Read more
Published on 4 May 2012 by Y. Johnston
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