There are many taboo subjects that are likely to rile people up. War, governments, Justin Bieber and Jar Jar Binks to name a few. But the one thing GUARANTEED to start up a storm is religion. Even in this day and age, people hold religion very close to their hearts and some are willing to follow it to the letter – even using it to justify their evil actions.
Now myself, I am not religious (I’m agnostic if anything), but I do appreciate religion and see its positive message as much as its faults. Therefore, I was very interested in reading this book when it was sent for a request.
And a Child Will Lead Them is a novel that follows Julian and his friends as their band sets to fame – and Julian’s rise as a new messiah. If you thought the Beatles were controversial for their infamous “Bigger than Jesus” quote – you ain’t seen nothing yet! So pray for my soul (or not) as I review this spectacular, and very funny, novel by Marcus Herzig.
About The Author
Marcus Herzig was born in 1970 and studied Law, English, Educational Science, and Physics, albeit none of them with any tenacity or ambition. After dropping out of university he worked for bank, a utility company, and for Big Oil. He prefers sunsets over sunrises, white wine over red, beer over white wine, and pizza over pasta. His reaction to airplanes passing overhead resembles that of a seven-year-old seeing an ice cream truck. Which, he insists, is a good thing.
Links for the book are as follows:
A really simple, but effective cover – showing Julian holding the microphone stand across his back in a crucifix like pose, with the city of Rome behind him. I don’t think it really needs explaining – the picture speaks for itself.
A new Pope, a world in social and political chaos, and a young singer and songwriter who has his unbelief tested as his big mouth accidentally propels him towards global superstardom. These are the ingredients of this thought provoking, tongue-in-cheek debut novel.
When 17-year-old singer and songwriter Julian Monk exposes secret government plans for controversial education reform, he and his band Puerity are suddenly hurled into the limelight and inadvertently create a series of events that plunge the world into turmoil.
As the government finds itself in hot water, and a newly elected Pope is hell-bent on turning the Church into a modern, ‘hip’ institution, Julian’s band mates look on in awe as their leader transforms from the shy and timid creature they had known all their lives into a charismatic public speaker and global superstar right in front of their eyes.
Julian's idealistic worldview, which is firmly based on a combination of science, reason, and humanistic values, and his unabashed outspokenness against bigotry, hypocrisy, and superstition, immediately strike a chord with the public. Here’s a young pop idol who clearly seems to have the makings of a 21st century poster boy for Christianity—if only he believed in God. But will the powers that be allow him to lead the world into a better future?
What I liked
Our main characters are 17 year old students that are part of the band Puerity and each chapter (which is listed as “The Gospel According to...”) is told from the POV of them. They are Tummy, an overweight, but loveable chap that has family issues – Michael, a technological genius that is also best friends with Julian – and Ginger, who is the only girl in the band, but often very outspoken and able to stand up to most of the boys. Through each chapter, we get to hear their thoughts as we see them go from a simple school band, to a worldwide sensation – partly down to Julian’s controversial statements about religion.
Interestingly, the only member of the band that we DON’T get a POV chapter of was Julian himself. So all we really know about Julian is what we hear from the other characters. This I think added a lot of mystery to Julian’s character – even though we did get ideas of his back-story (and learned he was a shy, somewhat autistic child), we never truly heard the story from his POV. This I think was a great move by the author, as it leaves the reader free to interpret Julian themselves. I also found it interesting how the new Pope (in an effort to make himself look “cool” to the younger audience) tries to manipulate Julian for their own needs – though that doesn’t go as planned!
Now Julian’s views about religion definitely raise a few eyebrows in both the story and no doubt the readers – but strangely enough, I actually agree with MOST of what he says! Like I said, I respect all religion – but I am strongly opposed to the way that a minority of human beings use it to justify their evils. What Julian tries to do is show the world that love and kindness are more important that worshipping a God. Much like Jesus tried to do, Julian wants to teach everyone to love his fellow man. Because at the end of the day, isn’t that more important? And whilst some may try to silence him, he is totally indestructible and cannot be stopped. Julian is a modern day revolutionary – but winning wars through words, not violence.
But the other characters are just as interesting and great to read about. All of them have their own quirks and feelings which make them likeable (I never once found any of them annoying) and you see their transformation throughout the story. As the band’s fame increases, the pressure starts to get to the other kids and we see how the stress of being famous starts to ruin their personal lives. It’s especially heartbreaking when the band goes their separate ways and Julian seems to choose his fame and fortune over his friendship. At least – that’s how it appears. I won’t give anything away for spoilers, but does feel that way at first. I also found Tummy’s story especially tragic with his family problems.
But it’s not all doom and gloom – there are some hilarious moments in the book that made me chuckle. Whether it’s Julian’s witty put downs, a moment where he sings the wrong National Anthem at a football game – or an absolutely priceless moment where Julian completely owns Bill O’Reily, there is plenty of humour as there is pathos. And the fact that you get to see it from so many POV’s means that there is no shortage of funny moments in this book.
What I didn’t like
To be honest, this isn’t so much what I didn’t like, but what some readers may not like. Like I said, religion is a terribly taboo subject and there are many out there that do not like them being challenged. And some of the stuff that And a Child Will Lead Them comes out with will most definitely wind up a few. I’m not saying that if you’re religious that you will hate this book (because I like to think that many people can be open minded about it), but if you’re sensitive about the subject, you might want to read this at your own risk.
Another thing that may put off some people is the relationship between a 17 year old and a 22 year old – which some may find uncomfortable. Now, the author did send me a sample chapter before I agreed to review this book, just so I could gauge the content (as you know I do make it clear to contact me if there are any strong sexual content, or anything that I may find offensive). But I gave him the benefit of the doubt and the content between these two is handled sensitively enough. It’s not a problem for me, but I should just warn you guys about that.
PROS (Stairway to Heaven):
- Very brave tale that asks some very bold questions.
- Characters are all very well written.
- Hilariously funny in places.
- People with an open mind will warm to this.
CONS (Highway to Hell):
- Those sensitive to religion may not agree with the content.
- Has a relationship in it that some may not agree with.
And a Child Will Lead Them is a novel that I think that both John Lennon and George Carlin would love to read. It’s a very bold statement against religion, but it never openly insults it either. It’s a story that teaches forgiveness and love for your fellow man – something we seem to have forgotten about. If you have an open mind and want to read something that will make you think, then I highly recommend this book. The strong characters, witty dialogue and moving pathos will keep you entertained throughout and leave you wanting more! The review is ended – go in peace and grab yourself a copy of this excellent book!
FINAL SCORE: 5/5