I don’t think I’ve read a book as troubling yet gripping as this one before.
“Young God” by Katherine Faw Morris is a very short book that is anything but ‘light reading.’ It was recommended to me by a friend on the basis it included “Poverty, terror, hard drugs, young teen prostitutes, the general scum of humanity,” and it certainly lived up to those qualities.
It’s a book that isn’t scared to just be extremely blunt in dealing with generally taboo topics. It’s designed to make you feel uncomfortable yet compelled to read further and see how many more boundaries can be broken in the short ride of this story.
It’s a book with such beautiful prose that the shocking subject matter is most definitely earned. To give an idea of the shocking matter, the protagonist, a 13 yr old girl named Nikki, within the first ten pages, sees her mother die then has sex with her now-dead mother’s boyfriend. Then steals his drugs and his car and drives to her father’s place.
The whole ride is only about 22000 words. It’s a single-sitting read, but it’s so gripping and gritty that when I closed the back cover I felt like I had come out of something with far more time investment anyway. And that’s because this novella carried no less emotional devastation than most ten book series.
Despite the short word length, there was no scarcity of things happening. Katherine managed to evoke characters and events in as few words as possible, sometimes having only a single sentence on a page to cover an important emotional change.
There is no word out of place, nothing extraneous and nothing missing. It is exactly right and exactly what it needs to be. The writing is simple but gorgeous, minimal but evocative. The characters are fleshed out in such interesting ways, with no dull 2-page character description slogs to read through. Instead, she shows the characters through their most important actions and traits.
Dialogue is phenomenal. There’s so much personality in everything characters say.
This book is a hurricane of depravity and fears nothing. And it’s such a short read, if you’re on the fence about it, you may as well go ahead.
Be forewarned though: “Young God” is full of scum scraped from the bottom of the cesspit. People easily discomfitted by topics such as “teenage prostitution” should not read it.
5/5 for it’s brevity and expert craft with words, and the lack thereof.