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Only Begotten Daughter (1996)

Only Begotten Daughter (1996)
3.89 of 5 Votes: 4
0156002434 (ISBN13: 9780156002431)
mariner books
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Only Begotten Daughter (1996)
Only Begotten Daughter (1996)

About book: Act 1- In which we meet a bunch of personality quirks masquerading as characters. And some basic background is laid down.A strange loner in a lighthouse learns one of his sperm bank donations has self-fertilized, a new immaculate conception, this time in a test tube. Meet Julie Katz, daughter of God, but unsure of her purpose. Dad plays the worried Jewish man and fears her divinity will make her a target. Best friend Phoebe thinks she should be out saving the world, rebellious teen with a big heart. And Julie herself will change personalities throughout the book like an actress playing multiple roles.But wait! Is that some subtle foreshadowing I see? A few hints of what’s to come? Nope, my bad. I should be taking notes because you are literally having the devil make a list of things I should watch out for later in the book. Never mind, no foreshadowing here, just a big billboard.Act 2- In which the daughter of God goes to hell, meets Jesus, and a reader starts checking the little status bar at the bottom of the Kindle..So our favorite ambivalent deity travels with the devil into hell and learns that quite literally everyone is down there. They visit islands filled with people suffering specific punishments, which makes Julie sad but not angry enough to really show she cares. Major logistical issues start showing up, such as why the devil spends so much time promoting sin in the earthly world if everyone is coming down to him anyway.A little bit of heavy handed philosophizing comes in there somewhere, having Jesus himself point out flaws in Christianity in oh, so clever ways. Most of this section seems to involve Julie and Jesus giving water to the damned. Oh, and somehow if a person dies in hell he truly is gone forever. It is supposed to make since, though I never figured out all the details.Worst of all, for me at least, the section was boring. One third of the book and only a couple of scenes stand out at all. Moving on…Act 3- In which the book starts to redeem itself, then falls horribly off the rails and defies all common sense.Julie goes back to earth as a normal mortal. She starts doing some good in the world on a personal level. Some touching moments as she attempts to help Phoebe clean up her life. For a while there was something really clicking in this section as we saw Julie do more good without any of her god-power than she ever did when she had it. I thought the book was gaining a point, then once again got dragged back into a unfunny religious parody.To be completely honest I didn’t buy into a single thing the author was selling me. A religious revival causing a splinter nation from the United States, a twentieth century auto-da-fe ignored by the international community, a voice command replacement limb. More heavy handed pointing out of inconsistencies in the Bible. Somehow the devil loses power in hell because Julie won’t be bad. Once again though, I never could figure out the damn details.Act 4- In which there wasn’t really an Act 4 in the book, but Nathan felt the need for a conclusion to his review.I think I would have loved this book late in high school. Every time he skewered a specific religious tenant I would have been “oh hell ya!” Hell, it is some of the same arguments every wannabe atheist starts throwing around when they rebel against religion. The early nineties must have been the time for books like these, browsing through Goodreads I found ‘Good Omens,’ ‘Small Gods,’ and ‘Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff’ all came out within a few years of each other.I don’t mind the blasphemous nature of the book, I am hardly religious. But if that is the type of book you are looking for you would be better off reading one of the three I listed above. They were actually entertaining and coherent. This book was so heavy handed and self-assured I barely got through it. The areas where it redeemed itself (when Julie actually tried to do good) were too short and far between.That’s it; I am tired of trying to review this book and will now blank it from my memory.2 Stars.

I found it difficult to know how to rate this novel. Like the first novel by Morrow that I read, "Towing Jehovah", it starts off extremely strong and then doesn't quite live up to its premise. In the case of Towing Jehovah, Morrow starts out with a mind-blowing premise but settles for a rather conventional use of storytelling once you get to the end. This novel is the opposite. Morrow once again has a great premise but starts off telling it rather straight. Then about halfway through the book things get completely bonkers and they never quite right themselves. The first third of the novel reminded me of Salman Rushdie. It was comic magical realism, and it told the story of Julie Katz's childhood, from her strange origins, her discovering that she has superpowers and the realization that her "mother" might be God. This early part of the book was masterfully written, even though it was following a basic coming of age narrative. Then in the second third of the book things veer toward theological satire and do so abruptly. The conversations between Julie and Wyrven (aka Satan) and her half brother Jesus are great satiric comic gems, but they come at the expense of all the character development that Morrow had carefully set up. The third section of the book both blends the two styles together and also becomes something completely different. The madcap black comedy is retained as Julie's story becomes a parody of the Jesus story, but we also revisit all the characters from the first third and many of the things that are set up get paid off. This finale third of the novel also has some brilliant moments, including one of the greatest "sick jokes" ever devised by any writer. It also takes the novel into the realm of being a sci-fi dystopia where a theocratic government has taken over New Jersey and succeeded from the US. This was hinted at in the first section of the book, but does not necessarily follow easily from what came before. In fact, this is probably the novel that I have found most difficult to call either sci-fi or fantasy when deciding where it goes on my self. It could easily go on either or both. It is also difficult to figure out what to rank it. Really, if I could, I would give it three and a half stars, but because that is not an option I will give it three, with the caveat that Morrow is some kind of mad genius as a writer. Like Towing Jehovah he predicts the kind of insane arguing over religion that would come with the twenty-first century an entire decade before it started.
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Michelle Morrell
Not at all what I expected, this is a gem of a book. Julie Katz is the daughter of God and as hard as she tries to live a normal life, world-changing events follow in her path. Raised by a jewish scholar and a lesbian with a baby of her own, her vision of family is refreshingly modern, as is her belief in the divinity of science. Her message to the world that science does have all the answers, we just don't have all the science and her well established lack of perfection lead Julie and her people on quite a journey, even as far as hell and back.From immaculate conception to eventual finale, this is an irreverent look of what might happen if God decided to have a second child, born in 1970s New Jersey.
Review initially published on my blog, Writing by Numbers, here.I needed something to read on the plane, but I’m squeamish about buying books before I know I’ll love them forever. Then, like a bolt from the blue, I found a bookstore with a $1 shelf, and this standing out like a weird little beacon.The blurb on the back describes Only Begotten Daughter as what happens when a lonely lighthouse-dwelling sperm donor finds that, without an egg, his “donation” is developing into a baby. This immaculate conception yields Julie Katz, Jesus’s younger sister. She walks on water, heals the sick, visits Hell – the whole shebang.“Great!” I thought. Probably witty, and amusingly irreverent. And yes, this book was all of that. But I didn’t count on how serious it would get. Man! Morrow is not screwing around! Julie’s world becomes dire, and Morrow makes sure that Hell isn’t the worst of it. For some of you, this may be ameliorated by the plot’s absurdity, because he takes it to some satirical extremes, most notably when New Jersey abruptly secedes into a draconian religious military regime of terror. For me, the improbability of this scenario didn’t reduce its disturbing nature. Violent zealots are scary!Anyway, such a tumultuous, hellishly-divine bildungsroman can’t be summed up neatly, but it’s an interesting detour for sure.The 213 in 2013 series chronicles every book I read in 2013. Each review contains exactly 213 words. For more, visit
Christ, this was a terrible book. No pun intended. My roommate read this for a religion class and suggested it to me. It would have been better if she slipped a puff-adder into my shoe and saved me two weeks of hell. The dialogue might just be the worst of any book I’ve read. Nobody talks like this. This is the author’s guess of what snarky, clever people might sound like if he I fact knew any snarky, clever people. The characters are stereotypes, from the Yiddish-spouting, neurotic Jew to the uber-bitch lesbian, but the cliche cake goes to Satan. Writing the devil is one of the best parts of biblical fiction, but Morrow doesn’t even try. “Wyvern” takes the form of a slick business man. Then he’s a horned, forked-tailed red monster. He enjoys rolling piglets into footballs and dropping parasites on tomatoes. He, the timeless anti-Christ, quivers with rage when told he's full of shit. This isn’t the prince of darkness. This is my five year old nephew. Worst still is Julie Katz. Fickle, spineless, obnoxious daughter of God. First she refuses to help people. Then she decides to live it large in hell because she can’t be bothered to take responsibility. Jesus calls her on it, and she wails and says she’ll make things better. She goes topside, and promptly runs and hides. Again.I was hopeful when she had to give up her divinity to return to Earth, and even more so when she was crucified. Morrow at last seemed willing to take a risk. No more easy exits for Julie. This time she had to take the pain. The comparisons between the Passion and her death were almost moving. And then Morrow pulls the plug. Julie is saved. Why?Because God is a sponge. Amanda the pet sponge turns out to be the sponge she’s fed poison from. It converts the poison to a harmless toxin a la Romeo and Juliet to induce death-like symptoms. Then Julie wakes up, claws out of her body bag under the ocean with holes drilled into her arms and legs, swims to shore, alive and well, goes home to best friend, husband and new baby, because God is a sponge. What the hell. The only interesting concepts I took from this book was the theory that God is outside the outside—existing but nonbeing. That and Jesus serving morphine in Hell. The rest should never have made it past an editor.
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