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Young God: A Novel Hardcover – May 6, 2014

2.8 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2014: Katherine Faw Morris's voice is terse and vicious, and in her debut Young God, she shows that she can strong arm the reader with few words. Thirteen-year-old Nikki has spent her life in the Carolina hills, a bleak world of drugs, prostitution, and murder. Morris borrows the grit and violence of modern Southern Gothic authors, like Ron Rash or Daniel Woodrell, but her own strengths come from a sense of restraint. Each of Young God's short chapters captures a single breathless moment. Miles Davis famously said, "It's not the notes you play; it's the notes you don't play." With the text Morris spares--in the whitespace of her novel--lay the most terrifying revelations. It turns out the most resonant words of Young God are the ones alluded to, never spoken. --Kevin Nguyen

From Booklist

In her first novel, Morris breaks the bones of traditional prose and resets them to serve her raw protagonist, Nikki. At 13, Nikki has survived a troubled childhood in the Carolinas as the daughter of drug traffickers. In fact, her father used to be the most important pusher in the county. After an abrupt tragedy and its aftermath forces Nikki to once more rely on his support, she finds herself being groomed as his replacement. But Nikki resists anyone else’s definition of her or her role in the world, and soon she has managed to claim her own power, which she feels is like that of God—the power over pleasure, pain, life, death, and everything in between. Whether it’s her body or her brains she must marshal to keep control, Nikki isn’t afraid to bruise, break, or bleed. Morris’ spare language and short chapters (some only a sentence) serve to support the captivating, unpredictable personality of her intense young narrator, making this a novel fans of finely made fiction will fly through before they’ve even blinked. --Amber Peckham
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374534233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374534233
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #935,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rating: 3.5/5

If you’ve heard of this new, debut novel, chances are you’ve heard words like “gritty,” “raw,” and “bare” attached to it. The style, the characters, and their realities are all no-holds-barred and in your face. You want candy-coating and flowers? Better look elsewhere.

Nikki is Young God’s thirteen-year-old protagonist. She is impressionable and naïve, but she is also scrappy. She is ready to grow up, and she doesn’t want to appear inexperienced (“I ain’t a virgin,” she proclaims three times in the book) or youthful. In her experience, adults have sex and do drugs and act tough . . . and she’s ready to be just like them.

Her mom dies in the first few pages of the book, but Nikki doesn’t mourn her much. Her main objective is to avoid ending up back at the group home. She hangs out with her mom’s boyfriend for a while before stealing his car and driving out to her dad’s trailer.

Her dad, Coy Hawkins, recently got out of jail. He used to be the biggest coke dealer in the county, but now he’s just a crackhead who pimps out teenage girls (“This is my new thing. This is the future.”). Nikki is desperate to stay with Coy, to impress him, to earn his acceptance (if not love), and she will do anything to please him.

Niki and her dad live in the foothills of North Carolina, many miles from the nearest city. Young God’s Appalachia is real and authentic in the way the Ozarks are real in Winter’s Bone. This is the country, and, like the rest of the book, it’s not particularly pretty.

There’s a reason most of the hype about this book focuses on the style. It is short and choppy and something akin to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (but harsher, meaner, and purposely less polished).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The writing style is interesting, but this 'novel' is not a novel at all...It's the opening act of a novel. It is around 200 pages and quite of few of them have literally one sentence on them. I realize it's a stylistic choice, in keeping with the 'stripped down' prose, but I'm not even a fast reader and I still finished this entire book in 90 minutes. The moment I thought, finally, maybe the plot will start, the novel ended!

It is a good thing the book's cover informs you the main character, "Nikki" is 13 years old, because you would not gather that information from any of the character's actions which include explicit set and graphic violence. Every character in the book is despicable, including the 'heroine' of the story. Minor characters are introduced for the sole purpose of being abused, killed, or both. If there was a point to this book, it completely escaped me. I think I was supposed to be shocked by what I was reading, but mostly what I was feeling was disgust, and I'll definitely be giving more thought next time Amazon decides to recommend a new book to me.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Huffington Post recommended this book. It is one of Amazon's "Best in May". Reading the first few pages, I was taken aback. The prose is terse and the plot is dark. Nikki has watched her mother die in a fall from a cliff, and she has come to live with her father. Nikki is a tough tough survivor who had not become fully cynical. Her father, Coy Hawkins, does his bet to make her world weary and accepting of the worst.

This book does nothing to court the reader. The scenes are sketched in the barest of detail. The framing of the setting is bare of comfort. I really disliked it. Then I thought it was a masterful piece of writing. Then I was enmeshed. All things being equal, this book still is not for everyone. I am, however, pleased that I took a selection a little further from my comfort zone. I do not seek pretty, but this is fairly far from that mark. It is a worthwhile work of stripped down fiction that engages the reader.
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I waited a couple of days to write this review, then came back and bumped my rating up from four to five and got typing. Ironically I agree with a lot of the things the reviewer who hated it had to say: it's violent, misogynist, and lacks the least hint of a hero. Yet, in these few words Morris has pulled me into a completely foreign world. I find myself days later thinking about these characters as though they are my own ne'er do well relatives. And isn't that what Art is all about? Showing you something you otherwise cannot see, especially an emotional something? Is Nikki a psychopath? What would you do - what would *I* do - if she really was a blood relative?
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Format: Kindle Edition
Reading Young God is like being punched in the face over and over. It's like eating sour candy until your tongue feels raw and your stomach aches but you just keep eating the candy anyways, knowing it isn't fun anymore and it has possibly turned into a quite negative experience but dammit, there's half a bag left. This book has few redeeming qualities but that doesn't make it easy to put down.

We meet Young God's heroine Nikki, thirteen, in an opening scene that sets the tone for the rest of the novel: her momma falls off a diving cliff the wrong way, high on attention from a guy and who knows what else, and splits her head open. Nikki quickly runs from the scene of the accident with her mother's lover and his backpack full of drugs, and the book is off and running at the pace of an adrenaline high. Nikki seems to be the girl the adage about years alone not truly measuring how much one has lived was made for, and this isn't a tale of redemption as much as it is one of survival of the fittest and the maddest in a mad mad world.

Constantly fearing child services, just a call away, Nikki fights or flights her way from druggie guy to druggie dad, without the luxury of self-analyzation or insight surrounding the desperation of her situation. Things go from bad to worse, and from icky to really really icky, so if you can't handle to darker stuff then this isn't the book for you. It reminded me a bit of Tampa by Alissa Nutting in its breezy, un-analytic writing style of the most horrible aspects of human nature. Sometimes the murderers and rapists and pimps aren't carrying on intense internal dialogue about life and ethics as they go about their dark business, these books seem to say.
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