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

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 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: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,027,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sam Quixote TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 24, 2011
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
This book was recommended to be by a friend, and I will be forever grateful to him. This is a fantastic book, funny, witty, acerbic and right on so many levels.
The author uses satire with the finesse of a surgeons scalpel to peel back layers of tradition and expose the reality. It's brilliant writing and will resonate with everyone who reads it in the spirit in which it was intended.
God has gone on a holiday and while he was gone the kids on earth ran amuck. Now he has to fix it.
The first part of the book alone is worth the purchase price, it gave me more belly laughs than I've had in years. The second part is more patchy but still bang on target.
I don't re-read many books, but this one I most certainly will be reading again.
If you want to read something that cuts through all the foolishness and greed of the human race, this is the book for you. Highly recommended, I'd give it six stars if I could.
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Outstanding! Mr Niven is just such a gifted writer - you will laugh your face off. And if you get to the middle of the book and don't feel the strong urge to put Springsteen flat out laud on your stereo, something might be wrong with you.
After I read a couple of his books (all great and recommended) I am just a bit puzzled with his funny fixation...
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Niven - The Second Coming

A friend passed her copy on to me - in Italian - & after reading it I got the Kindle version in English for comparison, & then sent the paperback to a cousin in the US.

Niven's 'conceit' might be considered blasphemous by some, but then this satire is not meant for them. God has been on a fishing trip, which on Earth Time has been about 2,000 years. Upon his return he finds out what has transpired during his absence, which throws him into a fury & he decides to sends his son, Jesus, back down again to fix things - thus 'The Second Coming.' This first part is brilliantly done & I found it utterly hilarious. Once Jesus comes to in New York City, there are some highs & lows, including barbed references to a certain reality show which Jesus enters as a contestant.

The ending is predictable, as it must be. I'm giving it Four Stars out of Five because I think Niven, having decided to tie Jesus' end to an actual event, has perhaps bogged his narrative down thereby losing his satiric edge. I would, however, highly recommend the book to anyone who would be would be willing to accept Niven's uneven work for what it is & be able to relish the guaranteed pleasure to be gotten from Part One.
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