The apocalypse, provocatively envisioned with wild invention and irreverent wit.
The declarative title and confrontational theology link Currie’s second novel quite logically with its predecessor (God Is Dead, 2007). John Thibodeau Jr., aka “Junior,” grows up oppressed by the message received from a mysterious otherworldly voice during his infancy that in 36 years, on June 15, 2010, a comet will destroy all life on earth. As Junior warily prepares to undertake an undisclosed “task,” the story’s viewpoint shifts among our protagonist (who addresses himself in a frequently clumsy second-person voice); his stoical, sentient dad; frail alcoholic mother; older brother Rodney, who’s both a juvenile delinquent and a baseball phenom; and Junior’s schoolmate Amy, who spends years worrying whether he’ll ever become the man she can love. The peregrinations and problems of these necessarily connected characters are smartly juxtaposed with evidence in the world around them (e.g., the Challenger explosion) that suggests Junior isn’t delusional. In some passages, Currie seems to be straining to fill pages: a terrorist plot against a Miami federal building engineered by a drug-dealing triple amputee; a sequence detailing Amy’s foolhardy behavior aboard an airplane and her subsequent victimization by paranoid security personnel. But everything keeps circling back to Junior’s unique ordeal and mission, and Currie pulls off a beautiful twist that reconfigures the narrative’s momentum (arranged in a precise countdown), presenting an ironic and quite moving alternative version of the looming near future. In this brave old world, Rodney’s Chicago Cubs make it to the World Series—and you’ll never guess who has been elected president of the United States.
This vivid novel races and sputters jerkily, but it’s an exhilarating ride nevertheless.