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The Second Coming Paperback – International Edition, March 5, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Believe me, this book is going to cause one almighty stink... Deeply, intelligently satirical. In lesser hands it could easily have become a crass rant. Yet Niven provides hilarious, perceptive entertainment, not at the expense of religion, but at the expense of bigoted, fundamental zealots whether they be Christians, Muslims or whatever... Amazingly, and despite the hipster stance and the brilliantly foul language, The Second Coming is surprisingly on message. Only the truly ignorant will take offence. But then they usually do."
—Henry Sutton, The Mirror, Book of the Week
John Niven leads the field with The Second Coming... Father and Son are both West
Coast pothead potty mouths, effing and blinding in a way that is confrontational, tasteless
and blasphemous. And works well, in an entertaining novel... In the midst of it all, there is
compassion, and insight into the way the impulse for truth can lead to dark acts indeed.
Plus, it's bloody funny."
Independent on Sunday

About the Author

JOHN NIVEN was born in Irvine, Ayrshire. He is the author of the novella Music from Big Pink and the novels Kill Your Friends  and The Amateurs. He lives in Buckinghamshire.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books (March 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099535521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099535522
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,635,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
God comes back from his fishing holiday to find that since he's been gone (a few days in Heaven but centuries on Earth) things have gone badly. Looking at what he's missed, He particularly doesn't like the 20th century. God makes up his mind to send Jesus back down to Earth to remind everyone of his one and only rule - "Be Nice" - a rule that Moses decided to ignore and come up with 10 of his own.

Down on Earth, Jesus is 31 years old, in a band, something of a stoner, and being nice to everyone. And then one day "American Pop Star" starts looking for new contestants and Jesus decides to audition. What better way to tell people to "Be Nice" than on the platform of the biggest show on television? After getting accepted, there's a road trip to LA, the rise of Jesus as a music phenomenon, and the inevitable ending...

There was so much I liked about this book. First off, while the opening chapters in Heaven might seem a bit too cartoonish, John Niven quickly establishes strong characters in God and Jesus, the biting dialogue shooting back and forth. Then the dinner in Hell with the Devil was an utterly marvellous scene, the Devil being a superb character in Niven's hands, I would've liked to have seen more of him. You can tell Niven had a fun time populating Hell with some of humanity's latest horrors, now deceased. What he has Hitler doing is especially funny but not as brutal as some of the KKK members or hypocritical Christians.

Speaking of excellent characters, Jesus goes from being a Bill-and-Ted-type stoner to a more rounded person as the chapters fly by and I ended up really liking him. He's funny, well grounded, and is basically a good dude. Niven doesn't have him be overly preachy, or overly good, just be a decent person.
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Format: Paperback
This book was recommended and lent to me for it being cleverly witty and funny, and I must admit it is. I really like the idea behind it:

God takes a short holiday, being of the opinion that things on Earth are going pretty well, only to find upon his return (for him, it was only a week of going fishing, but on Earth, several centuries have passed) that all hell has broken loose. There have been two world wars, genocide, famine, new diseases have developed, slavery is still around, mankind has managed to make a hole in the ozone layer and almost empty His oceans of fish, people are killed for ridiculous reasons in the name of religion (not much different to the Dark Age, really), and there are so-called "Christians" everywhere, making a farce out of what God truly meant when he chiselled that first beautiful stone plate in slanting copperplate with the words "Be Nice".

There are two ways God can go from here: Start all over (that's what John and Peter advise him to do), or send His son down again, giving His creation a second chance to learn the true meaning of "Be Nice". God decides on the latter, and Jesus is sent to Earth once more.

There are some brilliant bits in the conversations between God and His team in Heaven. As I said, I really like the idea behind the book, BUT I don't like how that idea is executed: there is such an inflationary use of the f-word, and there seems to be quite a fixation on all things anal, that I honestly couldn't bear reading the entire book, brilliant ideas or not. Don't get me wrong, I am certainly not a prude and use the occasional expletive myself, but there is something like overdoing it. And in my opinion, unfortunately, John Niven has been overdoing it in this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I would recommend this to anyone who doesn't take their religion too seriously/literally. The first section of the book had me laughing out loud - it's worth the price just for that part alone. It then calms down a bit and becomes a good story, with lots of commentary on today's lifestyle. If you've read Niven's other books, you may recognise other characters that come up. All in all, it's a very good stab at what might happen if Jesus came back to today's world.
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Format: Kindle Edition
In "The Second Coming" by John Niven, God returns from His 400-year vacation and is insanely displeased with the development of humanity in the 21st century.

Consequentially, He decides to send down his son Jesus a second time to preach His one and only rule to humanity: "Be Nice".

Strong beginning and premise!

This obviously not a read for people who easily get offended. I remember reading an excerpt of this a while ago and absolutely falling in love with the funny, witty, and super entertaining way Niven decides to tackle this topic. From everyone smoking pot in heaven to gay assistant angels and a quick visit to the ten circles of hell. However, I think a whole book on this is definitely too much.

Throughout the course of the novel. Jesus gets sent down to Earth and decides to participate in a talent show, because that seems to be the only way to get the attention of 21st century humans. Until then, there is a lot of filler describing Jesus' new life on earth as a struggling musician. I noticed how I zoned out after a while. The beginning, set in heaven, is flat-out hilarious, but Niven is unable to keep up the pace and humor for the rest of the book.

Not for the highly sensitive

While I like Niven's humorist approach, he definitely overdoes it in some parts. Every time Jesus encounters another human that doesn't belong to his new-found group of apostles, they're portrayed as vicious and mean.
When writing parodies and social critique it's easy to overdo it, losing the entire message and just turning the whole thing into a joke. I'm definitely not someone that gets offended by religious critique very easily, but "The Second Coming" is walking on a tightrope.
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