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The Second Coming

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  5,954 ratings  ·  551 reviews

God really is coming, and he is going to be pissed. Having left his son in charge, God treated himself to a well-earned break around the height of the Renaissance. A good time to go fishing. He returns in 2011 to find things on earth haven't gone quite to plan...

The world has been rendered a human toilet: genocide; starvation; people obsessed with
Paperback, 376 pages
Published April 7th 2011 by William Heinemann (first published 2011)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,954 ratings  ·  551 reviews

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May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humour
This book is very, very funny. It is not a literary masterpiece and has lots of flaws. It will also offend many many people. It will particularly offend religious fundamentalists (especially Christian ones) and those who are racist and homophobic. Oh, and if you are offended by swearing and casual drug use, you may also have problems with it. When I say swearing, well it's not the odd damn and blast, just a little stronger.
The premise is quite simple God goes for a weeks fishing in the 17th Cen
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Rarely nowadays do I finish a book in a day, but this one had me harking back to the days when I would regularly do this. It hooked me and sucked me in, and I read it in a couple of lengthy sittings. It is a little patchy in places and perhaps seeks to shock just a bit too much at times, but these are small flaws in an excellent book.

God comes back from a fishing trip (lasting 400 earth years) and is not happy with the mess humans are making of the earth - when he left to go on his holiday the R
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many moons ago I read Kill Your Friends and I loved it, so I am not sure why it took me so long to read another book by John Niven however I have now, and I am very glad that I finally got round to it.

If you’re religious, and easily offended, then avoid this book. If you dislike profanity then avoid this book.

Conversely, if you enjoy perceptive humour that nails many a sacred cow, and that simultaneously manages to be perceptive, quietly profound, compelling, original, amusing and outrageous th
Sam Quixote
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
God comes back from his fishing holiday to find that since he's been gone (a few days in Heaven but centuries on Earth) things have gone badly. Looking at what he's missed, He particularly doesn't like the 20th century. God makes up his mind to send Jesus back down to Earth to remind everyone of his one and only rule - "Be Nice" - a rule that Moses decided to ignore and come up with 10 of his own.

Down on Earth, Jesus is 31 years old, in a band, something of a stoner, and being nice to everyone.
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A woman saw me reading this book (albeit with a different cover) and asked me if I was reading a book about Jesus. "Yeeeees," I replied hesitantly. "Where can I buy it?" she pushed. I told her Amazon, not disclosing that I got it from because this will never, ever, ever be published in America.

And it's our loss.

What you need to know is the Christians have it all wrong. Moses was an egotist who made up the Ten Commandments himself. All God wanted to say was "just be nice." God LOVES
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't praise this book highly enough. The blurb says that around the time of the Renaissance God takes a week off and goes on holiday, since everything on earth is going swimmingly. When he gets back, earth time running differently to heaven time (Einstein was right), it's the early 21st century and, to put it bluntly, everything has gone to ratshit.

So, God decides to send his son back to teach mankind how they should be living...

My husband read this a while back and told me to read it because
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There is a scene halfway through this book where JC rips into a cover of Springsteen's 'Born to Run'. It is a manic delight to read, and I'm sure that John Niven took great pleasure in writing it. Niven, a journalist who worked in the music industry, is Scottish, and his nationality is very much in evidence here in this anarchic, profane and undoubtedly hugely controversial story of Jesus Christ's return to Earth. Sent by his father, horrified by what people had done in his "name", JC plays into ...more
Dec 12, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was close to great... It was mostly fun to read, well written and it had some crude humor and quite obvious twists of Christian theology.
And that was my main problem with this book: It is right in your face. No subtlety, no not so obvious sarcasm or irony. It was all there, right in the open.
The idea was actually better, than the plot in the end. What would Jesus do, if he came back to earth? Not exactly a fresh and original idea. 
And mixing that with having him apply for a talent scoutin
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Our times are truly troubled with war, genocide, disease, and hate lurking around every corner. In "The Second Coming", God sees that everything is screwed up after returning from a short vacation. After short deliberation, he decides to use the only cure for the problem. He sends Jesus back in. Now, the returned savior must brave life as a struggling musician, whilst simply getting people to "Be nice!" Seeing it as a good chance to spread his message, Jesus decides to enter the competition "Ame ...more
Sep 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Heaven is a better place than earth. Nothing new so far. But in this book even hell is a better place than earth, more entertaining, funnier and more interesting people there. So my advise is: Read the first chapters, skip the middle part and look forward to the last part.

The book teaches another lesson: You can write a funny book about bad people, you can write a sad book about good people but you CANNOT write a funny book about a good man. So the two commandments should be like this:

1. Be nic
Aug 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Not really something you'd call fine literature, but a rockin' good time, with its heart in place and many enough spikes and arrows directed in all the right directions. Plus some real poignancy towards the end. Good enough to make me want to check you 'Kill Your Friends', Niven's first novel.
Davide Rubini
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If somebody asks me for a fun, smart, controversial novel I never hesitate. This is my suggestion and I have yet to find something better. Niven puts your beliefs upside down and in his usual irreverent style show the inner side of a religion, not necessarily bad but surely powerful.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a quite serious and sad topic, about humans and religion and how humanity is going to hell. But the topic is handled with so much irony and humor that it was just fun to read. I loved the beginning and enjoyed every site of the part in heaven. Afterwards it slowed a bit down, but that was ok as the story needed to evolve. Even though it got less there was still a lot humor and I also loved the references to the book Kill your Friends. So if you want to read this, start Kill yo ...more
Tom Loock
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I liked The Second Coming a lot, but it is a odd book: The first 70 odd pages take place in heaven and are extraordinarily funny. At that stage, I was really excited about the novel. Once the story moves to New York City however, the tone changes increasingly and towards the end, little of that humour is left (though delightful little sparkles pop up now and then). Having said that, the story of Jesus is not exactly a comedy.
Mind you – it's still a very good book and if it weren't for the over-a
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's the first book by John Niven I read and I must say I'm a little disappointed. I loved the beginning, heaven was great. I laughed a lot for the first few pages but after that it wen downhill. The depiction of hell wasn't really inventive and the rest of the book was a little too easy. I liked the character of Jesus but every other one (apart maybe stelfox) was a little too much one dimensional and you could see the ending coming miles and miles away. Too bad. I not a religious person so I wa ...more
What a wonderful, heart-warming story. <3

This is a very clever book. Alongside the comedy of having Jesus Christ being a guitar playing stoner taking part in a televised talent show, you have a well researched tale with clear comparisons to the 'original' story. I do not know enough about JC's disciples, I cannot remember enough details from my Sunday School upbringing, but even I could make a guess at which disciple was who in the story. I say it again, this is a very clever story.

This story m
Army of Penguins
Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
So! God takes a look at the world and decides that yeah, things are looking mighty fine. Time for short a vacation! Sure, time in Heaven passes differently than on Earth, meaning that God's week-long vacation lasts from the Renaissance to the current time. Now God comes back and catches up on fun subjects like the Holocaust.

Oh boy.

Or rather, oh f**k. Because this book has plenty of F-bombs. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The book starts in Heaven, then moves to Earth as Jesus Christ tries to ma
Ian Mapp
Nov 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: humour
The return of Steven Stelfox is something that has to be anticipated, even if he has only a minor part to play in this book - somehow turning into Simon Cowell in the process.

For those that dont know him, he was the most morally reprehensible character ever created and in the last book, kill your friends, we got to understand what went on in his head. It wasn't pretty, but it was damn funny.

This book is about the 2nd coming of christ. He has been sent back to earth by god, who is unhappy that th
That was hilarious af. I don't recommend it for the easily offended. XD
Daniele Nidoli
How religion should be
Helen the Bassist
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer Christie
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Rude, crude, socially unacceptable and fabulous.
Gavin McCallion
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A clever read, a good few laughs and definitely the God for me. Maybe a touch to heavy on the satire and weed, but aside from that it kept me engaged start to finish.
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a cracking read! So funny and ultimately a sad reflection on modern society. Definitely a book that I will revisit in the future and I will be looking to read more of this author's work.
Stephanie Ellingham
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An interesting take on the story of Jesus and his followers. Not one for those who are easily offended as its full of blasphemy in multiple forms. But an entertaining and funny read.
Rebecca Dobrinski
One lesson, folks. Just one lesson. BE NICE.

Shortly after I started reading this book I tweeted the following: “Enjoying the hell out of The Second Coming by @NivenJ1. After 60 pages I’m already recommending it.” And I meant every word.

I proceeded to spend the next couple of days with my face buried in this book. I laughed. I told everyone I knew about it. I read portions out loud to those around me. I think I even typed out a few key phrases in a text message to a friend in Japan.

The premise of
Dave Smith
Nov 29, 2015 rated it really liked it

I'm struggling with this book! Not that I didn't enjoy it (I loved a lot about it) but some things I didn't like.

I'm not going to discuss the plot; it has been outlined in other reviews, mostly without spoilers, so go read them for a quick summary of what it means to Be Nice.

And I don't think there's anything wrong in portraying Heaven in the way the author did, or Jesus' time spent on Earth before, during and after his brush with fame. He's writing fiction, and he can make Heaven whatever
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Whackos and peaceniks and misunderstood saviors
Recommended to Alan by: Joe
Jehovah and Son, the unauthorized biography. Or something like that. Another book about Heaven and Hell and the power of rock music (like Boyett's Mortality Bridge), and another transgressive book by a Scotsman (like Alasdair Gray)... it might seem as if I'm in something of a rut lately, but this one actually dropped on me out of the blue, recommended by my son's friend Joe after he acquired this novel in its native habitat on a recent trip to London.

Unlike most books that reimagine the afterlif
Jim Murphy
Aug 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
“Unimaginative” sums it up. You might have heard that this is a book about Jesus coming back in the present day and going on American Idol, and you might have thought “so that’s the first 50 pages, and then the plot builds and develops from there, right?” No: that’s it. Jesus is a dope-smoking, hard rocking, not particularly Jesus-y radical dude who sticks it to the man and makes Tyler Durden speeches and does not seem to have much of a plan at all, and then the book ends. I would be surprised i ...more
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book but I also know that the joy that I found in it might be very hard for some to find. This is a real pity because the message of the book is a great one.
The review may not make it sound like it because the topics are heavy, but it is a funny book that had me laughing out loud - for real. Niven is sharp and tight as an author, with a wicked sense of humour
So, in this book God is a very human-like being in heaven who decides, during the time of the Renaissance, that earth
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Born in Irvine, Ayrshire, Niven read English Literature at Glasgow University, graduating in 1991 with First Class honours. For the next ten years, he worked for a variety of record companies, including London Records and Independiente. He left the music industry to write full time in 2002 and published his debut novella Music from Big Pink in 2005 (Continuum Press). The novella was optioned for t ...more

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