24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
All you need is love,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Final Testament of the Holy Bible (Hardcover)
A man called Ben Zion working on a construction site gets brained by a massive piece of plate glass dropped by a crane but somehow doesn't die. Following his recovery he begins performing miracles, told in the book by his "disciples" - could he be the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, returned?
But this Messiah doesn't act like the Messiah in the Bible. He "loves" everyone sure, but does so sexually, literally instigating orgies and having sex with men and women. And while Ben Zion can quote Biblical verse, he doesn't reinforce the Christians' beliefs in a male God who watches and cares what his creations are doing below, and whether or not they follow the words of his Bible.
Blasphemy! is the knee-jerk reaction this setup is designed to provoke, at least amongst Christians, and written by who else but James Frey, notoriously told off by Oprah for lying about parts of his memoir "A Million Little Pieces". I think this book will definitely receive a lot more attention in the US where Christianity is far more prevalent than in Europe with the novel goading its readers with intentionally sacrilegious ideas.
Don't get me wrong, if I had to label myself it would be a secular humanist, and I certainly didn't object to Frey's messiah carrying on the way he did. But I do care about reading a good book and I felt that this was rather a weak effort. The story seemed to slow considerably in the second act and falter in the third before ending in the inevitable way.
I think this novel becomes tedious because Frey uses Ben Zion as a soap box rather than write him as a real character. There are lengthy passages on the wrongs of Christianity, arguments which most people are already aware of, but they became rather repetitive, as were the constant messages of love, love, love, and more love. I believe this is a totally worthwhile message, that love is the best thing about life, and that we should seek love and make no judgments on whether it's a man or a woman that we choose, but as part of a novel it was more than a bit dull to read again and again.
All of the narrators become followers and believers of Ben Zion and eventually begin parroting his message of love, so to read the same thing over and over for 150 pages is a bit much. And between Ben Zion leaving the subways until his eventual end, there isn't a whole lot that happens. Ben "loves" everyone, Christianity is mocked (they are an easy target, especially the Catholics - deservedly so), and... that was it?
I expected a bit more than a whole lotta humping. Granted there are some nice moments that are a wink to the reader at some of the Bible stories, like when Ben sits down to supper with his family for the first time in 16 years; he stands and picks up a plate of fish and begins to put them onto everyone's plates - "What are you doing Ben?" "Feeding you. Bread roll?".
"The Final Testament of the Holy Bible" was well written, enjoyable at times, well presented (the text is laid out like in the Bible, with chapters named after the characters, most of whom mirror the disciples' names), and some set pieces were certainly memorable. But as a fan of his last book, the excellent and frankly underrated "Bright Shiny Morning", I felt that this book was a bit flat. It felt like Frey was looking to antagonise the Christians and wasn't really interested in much else. But I think Frey is capable of better novels than this and I look forward to reading his next effort, hopefully realising that poking fun of Christians, fashionable as it is these days, isn't enough to sustain a novel. Not a terrible book by any means but not Frey's best and a bit disappointing in its repetitiveness.