Rating: 1 star
Headline: Regardless of which faith you preach, this book is downright nonsensical
The Most Reverend by JJ Young is a comedy-satire of a Christian denomination and its plight to establish itself in Britain. Pastor Delilah Wigglesworth, founder of the “PRAISE!” movement adopts a highly informal approach to communicating biblical messages through the use of concert-type congregations, social media and its flagship confessional app. Shortly after arriving in the UK, Delilah, husband Jude and their two children become acquainted with Mary, a small parish vicar who has become fatigued with the Church of England and the Archbishop’s unwillingness to fund the repair costs to her church. In awe of Delilah and Jude, Mary leaves her parish to become the UK’s first pastor for “PRAISE!”
Within this plot summary there is ample opportunity for well-executed comedy and clever satire. Instead, what the reader sadly gets is poorly written dialogue and all too frequent location changes. Surrey, London, Delilah’s seemingly random decision to travel to North Wales to film promotional footage; the scene-setting in this book leaves even the most sturdiest of readers with whiplash.
Alongside Delilah’s global aspirations, there is also a side-plot involving “PRAISE!” being ransomed for millions of dollars after a data hack on its confessional app. Despite this disturbing development, none of the characters react with any sense of concern or urgency. Character traits are also unbelievable, particularly the Archbishop who immediately takes a strong dislike of “PRAISE!” because of the serious threat it poses to the Church of England. And yet, the whole book is leading up to Mary becoming the UK’s first pastor of a morally-questionable denomination run by two people, Delilah and Jude. The Archbishop’s fears just do not seem to add up.
As far as comedy goes, this book is simply not funny. A lot of the jokes are cheap biblical puns, innuendo, or a combination of the two, used at random like a Carry-On film. Humour that strikes of one-liners that popped into the author’s head as they were writing. And while I understand pastor Jude’s character is meant to be extreme right-wing, unfaithful and generally useless, the humour he exerts is at best excruciatingly awkward and at worst, down right discriminatory towards other faiths and cultures.
If not for the rushed pace, then for the tone of voice, The Most Reverend is punctured with so many plot holes and faults that it would take more than Noah’s Ark going viral to ride out this storm.