Killing God by Kevin Brooks

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Killing God by Kevin Brooks

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Visceral and heart-breaking novel about religion, alcoholism, family break-up and alienation. Kevin Brooks is as perfectly attuned with his readers as ever.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Puffin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0141319127

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I'm totally unattractive and I don't give a shit.

Dawn is fifteen. Her father disappeared two years ago. Her mother has lapsed into chronic depression and spends all day in front of the TV, whisky-laced coffee in one hand, fag in the other. So life really isn't going too well. And this why Dawn has decided to kill God. There's just one problem with that - he doesn't exist. It has to be worth a try though, and so Dawn embarks on her first attempts. She buys a carrier bag full of Bibles for research, and she collects garden snails and paints letters on their shells.

Garden snails? Don't ask.

Against a post-punk soundtrack, we accompany Dawn slowly reveals exactly why it is she thinks God should die. Is her mental state all it could be? Or is she justified in such nihilism?

Dawn is a wonderful character. She's a bit of an outsider, and she half likes that, with the typical teenage desire to stand out, be different. But she's also frozen into outsiderhood by her past, and she very much doesn't like that. She's over-analytical, reading too much into trivial events, and she can be obsessive, writing everything in lists, and listening to the Jesus and Mary Chain over and over. But she's bright and imaginative and capable of independent thought. She misses her disappeared dad, even though it's all mixed up with some very bad times. She loves her heartbroken, drunken mum. She looks after her dogs like a mother looks after her children - better, in fact, than her own mother looks after her. I was rooting for Dawn from the very first page.

There are a number of parental no-nos in Killing God. Well, no, scrub that. Think of any parental no-no, and it's in Killing God. I am Mrs Anti-Censor, so I don't mind this, in fact I approve, but it is a very dark book in many ways, and I do think readers will probably need to be properly adolescent before they can truly appreciate the real implications of the taboo themes for both Dawn and the plot of the book itself. It's not one for pre-teens, I don't think, however confident their reading.

But for teenagers, well, it's a wonderful book. Dark and sad and full of alienation. But it's also about love, and forgiveness and redemption. Brooks, as ever, is absolutely attuned with his audience. He writes what they want to read and he effortlessly inhabits their emotional landscape. He's not afraid of any subject, and he has such a clear eye and ease of writing that he draws them in to the lives of his characters, and they make a real emotional investment. He doesn't let them walk away with an easy and unrealistic happy ending, but he never quite dashes their hopes either.

The day will doubtless come when a Kevin Brooks book disappoints me, but I'm happy to say it's definitely not yet.

My thanks to the nice people at Puffin for sending the book.

If Killing God is the kind of thing they like, they could also look at Meet Me At The Boathouse by Suzanne Bugler - first love gone wrong in an equally electrifying story.

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Buy Killing God by Kevin Brooks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Killing God by Kevin Brooks at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Killing God by Kevin Brooks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Killing God by Kevin Brooks at


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