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Young God: A Novel Hardcover – May 6, 2014
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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
Top Customer Reviews
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).Read more ›
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Superdark and minimal--I read it in one sitting and can't stop thinking about it.Published 5 months ago by Long Division
Amazing. If this book were food, I'd eat it & want seconds. If this book were drugs, I'd take them & get addicted.
I want more from this author & I want it now.
Mysterious Book Report No. 180
Young God: A Novel
by John Dwaine McKenna
There’s a newer genre of hard-boiled crime fiction known as southern noir or country... Read more
Reading this slight book will bring hope to many writers, hope that whatever they write, no matter how pedestrian and how without merit, someone somewhere will publish it. Read morePublished 15 months ago by B. Judell
I read the description and was instantly intrigued. Sadly, the prose doesn't live up to the expectations I had for the novella.Published 15 months ago by Caitlin S.
‘She dreams of nothing, which is her favorite dream and inside of her is a low buzz.’
Set in the Appalachian foothills in North Carolina, Nikki has just witnessed her mother... Read more
For all the great reviews I had read before purchasing this book, I was expecting more than was this book is. If possible, I recommend getting a sample before purchasing this book. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Mallory Backmann