Published: March 25th 2014 by Angry Robot
Format: ARC, 400 pages
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When God decides to quit and join the human race to see what all the fuss is about, all Hell breaks loose.
Sensing his abdication, the other defunct gods of Earth’s vanquished pantheons want a piece of the action He abandoned.
Meanwhile, the newly-humanised deity must discover the whereabouts and intentions of the similarly reincarnated Lucifer, and block the ascension of a murderous new God.
How is he ever going to make it as a stand-up comedian with all of this going on…?
The Last God Standing caught my eye because of its intriguing premise – God tries out life as a mortal (a comedian to boot), but his plans to make it big and impress his girlfriend’s father keep getting derailed because older, now defunct Gods are trying to kill him.
Honestly I thought this book would either be absolutely amazing, or absolutely terrible, but really it’s neither. The Last God Standing is a good book, certainly entertaining and funny, but it fails to step up and really wow a crowd. The book is like a filler act between huge headliners at one of the comedy shows that Lando performs at: enjoyable for a time, but somewhat forgettable.
The beginning and end of the book are riveting, but it literally loses the plot in the middle. I think there’s too much going on: Lando is trying to balance is mortal life with his responsibilities as God. But here’s the thing – who did Lando leave in charge while he was off being a human, and why didn’t they do anything? Also, it seemed selfish of God to put his mortal desires before the good of the world.
I can see that Lando’s character is meant to be a mortal first, and God second, so he prizes his mortal existence. But he’s also retained access to his powers, and he can Reset time when something goes terribly wrong (all those other Gods trying to kill him usually results in vast amounts of collateral damage). I just don’t see God abandoning humans the way he wanted to, all because of a girl. I’d wager that having access to all his powers probably makes it difficult for him to fully immerse himself in the mortal experience, so I don’t quiet sympathise with him when he gets all woe-is-me about everything. He’s God. He’s listened to all human prayers for millennia, but he can’t use what he learnt to figure out simple, human problems?
Although I liked much of the humour throughout the book, I think it bordered on insensitive. Certain jokes about race and sexual orientation took me by surprise, because I thought we’d all clearly established jokes in that vein are neither funny nor to be tolerated. Lando himself doesn’t make objectionable jokes – he’s vegetarian and likes all form of life – but the people around him are all weirdly indecent. In fact, I don’t think there is one tolerant, kind, decent character in the whole book, aside from the kid Herbert Hasani.
The other deities in this story are awesome. I love the ways they are imagined by the author. Some have also opted to live as mortals, and their incarnations are hilarious. I think the fight with Hannibal was my favourite of them all, to be honest, and the elephant certainly lent a lot of colour to that scene.
The ending of the book has the potential to confuse readers who aren’t paying attention – the plot picks up abruptly and a lot happens in very little time. The final battle is less fighting and action, and more philosophy, and the outcome was unexpected. The villain was obvious to me, but it took Lando a long time to see what was going on, which was disappointing.
The Last God Standing is a book you have to be in a certain mood for: you have to want your philosophies about life and death and religion to be interleaved with flippant, irreverent humour. I liked it, and if there’s a sequel I’ll read it, but I could easily go without as well.