Book Review – Last God Standing by Michael Boatman

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I know Michael Boatman most from his work on the television show Spin City (very cool if you’ve never seen it) so when I saw his book on the library shelf I was intrigued. Last God Standing is written from the perspective of God, who has decided to abandon heaven to experience a human life, hoping to be a stand up comic. But of course this leaves certain realms in chaos and with the pantheon of gods suddenly acting crazy, Yahweh has to figure out what’s going on.

Writing a book from God’s perspective is an interesting challenge, and I’m sure that many people will find it blasphemous and controversial, but how are you supposed to capture the voice of the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Almighty and have it come across as authentic? Well, Boatman’s writing style certainly helps. He lends a wry commentary on religious belief and the state of humanity with cinematic visuals. I’d love to see some artistic renditions of the battle scenes between gods, for his descriptions are vivid.

The book is well-paced and I found it extremely easy to read. I enjoyed how the author found ways to explain the existence of different gods and managed to blend them into one culture. The ultimate message of the story was one that I agree with as well, and the journey to get to that point was highly entertaining. It touches on pretty much all the major religions, and the not-so-major ones too. I do think the double-meaning of the title is a little misleading though, as I didn’t find Yahweh’s stand up career to make up a huge part of the book.

But to put yourself in the mind of God is an audacious effort by Boatman and it could easily have crashed and burned. Thankfully he has the talent to pull it off with aplomb. Last God Standing is a brilliant book and perhaps Michael Boatman should focus more on the written word. I know I’m looking forward to anything else he writes.

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Book Review – You by Austin Grossman

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You tells the story of the fictional company Black Arts games, who are striving to make the ultimate game. It’s written by Austin Grossman, who certainly has the credentials in video game design, but does it turn out to be a good story?

Well, it’s told through the eyes of Russell, who is a failed law student who basically begs his old high school pals to let him work for them. The book goes through the history of the company, which is entwined in the history of these friends, and also shows how Russell tries to take the lead on game design and tries to make the ultimate game.

Now I wouldn’t class myself as a gamer. I do like computer games but it’s a hobby that’s left more in the past and I don’t keep up with current developments in the industry but I do have, I’d say, more than a passing interest in the culture, but perhaps people who are more ingrained in the industry would get more out of it than I did. I felt that Grossman’s writing style was more functional than poetic, and while he gave good detail about the nature of game design and the shenanigans that occur behind the scenes, and the general chaos of the whole process, I didn’t find the prose captivating.

The story itself is okay and the book does a good job of looking at a number of different genres but I think in order to enjoy this book you have to have an interest in the subject. If you’re a gamer it’s one that you might want to check out, but I only found it a decent read and it didn’t manage to elicit a strong emotional response from me.