Title: Young God
Rating: 4 Stars
This is a minimalist, raw as you can get novel about a thirteen year old girl named Nikki living her life as furiously as she possibly can.
She starts the novel with her mother. Almost immediately, her mother dies accidentally. She stays for a bit with her mother’s drug dealing boyfriend, but ultimately she leaves him (stealing his drugs and his car) to live with her father. Her father was once a local big time drug dealer cocaine dealer but now is a pimp. Pretty much through the force of her will, he gets back into the drug dealing business. All along the way, she determinedly experiences everything, whether it be sex or the drug ecstasy or shooting heroin or even robbery and ultimately murder. There is pretty much nothing that she doesn’t try, even the most forbidden of social taboos.
The protagonist, even though at some level you get drawn into her life and you kind of feel yourself rooting for her, is truly a horrible person that is a curse on society and will continue to be. There is not going to be a happy ending for her. If she lives, she’s going to be a mass murdering drug kingpin. At the same time, as you read, you develop an understanding that this is a case of nurture over nature. She wasn’t born a nihilist, her to this point thirteen years of life have made her a nihilist. As such, it’s a pretty crushing statement that, while other thirteen year old girls are going to school and taking their first innocent steps to adulthood, that there’s undoubtedly a large number of girls like Nikki in America for whom childhood is a brutally short interlude to the realities of a gritty, hardscrabble life.
All of this is told in an intentionally sparse style. It’s at best 200 pages long. Nearly all of the chapters are less than two pages long and some consist of only a sentence.
It’s a work of transgressive fiction. How you’re going to feel about this novel is going to be dependent to a large extent about how you feel about the genre. If you’re a big fan of Trainspotting, Requiem For A Dream, or American Psycho, you should at least consider reading it. It’s not in the same league as those, but it’s definitely in the same ballpark.
If, on the other hand, you think that those novels are pornographic or a blight upon our society, you should really stay away. You will be horrified that someone wrote a novel about what can only be described as an evil, nihilistic, thirteen year old girl.
The reviews on Goodreads pretty much exactly reflect this. A number of reviews were horrified by the subject. A number of reviews were dismayed by the writing style. I’m always kind of interested in these strongly negative reviews. It’s one thing if a reviewer is a professional that must review the book. In such a case, expressing revolt and disgust can be a natural reaction. However, I’m guessing that very few of the reviewers on Goodreads are professional. They are people like me that just like to read. If you just look at the plot, the back page blurbs, and just a couple of random pages, you should know what you’re getting yourself into.
So, why buy it? For example, I know that I’m not a fan of romance genre novels, but it’s not like I go to a book store, buy the most extreme bodice ripping title that I can find, read it, and then write a blistering review about how horrible the genre is.
Do such people that read this book and are outraged realize that they are one of the reasons why books like this exist? To a certain extent, art like this exists to shock. Does anyone think that the Piss Christ photographer didn’t know exactly what was going to happen when it went on display?
Be that as it may, I enjoyed it. However, be very aware that it might not be your cup of tea.