The Liars’ Gospel by Naomi Alderman

15790915I received an advanced copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Liars’ Gospel is a fictional retelling of the story of Jesus (Yehoshuah).  A book many has labelled controversial and I can indeed say that it is.  I think that when you choose religion as your topic, you will find mixed reactions towards your book. Some people will like it and others won’t and this is evident when you look at the ratings on Goodreads, because you will find as many 1 star ratings as there are 5 or 4 star ratings.

The story is set in the first century and is being told from different view points. I find the book challenging and probably (thought) provoking too.  I didn’t finish this book, and because of that I cannot provide you with a review of the book, but I will give you my reasons for not finishing it.  Knowing that this book was controversial, I tried to keep an open mind when about 12% into the book Jesus (Yehoshuah) apparently strikes his father. I was like “What!? This is wrong”, but I carried on reading, because the writing is good, despite me having qualms with the content.  I stopped reading the book halfway after the part about Iehuda (who is Judas I believe) “f-king some wh*re” and I thought I just cant finish this book. It was just too much for me and I felt uncomfortable reading it.  There is a lot of profanity used in this book, which I believe is not in line with the setting. I doubt that people in the biblical times spoke like that, but it’s just my opinion.

Now I can hardly call this book blasphemous, as I have not finished reading it and do not know what happens in the second half of the book.  This book, I believe, is either a hate or love and I do not love this book.  I wouldn’t recommend reading it, but if you are curious about this book then do pick it up if you aren’t sensitive to the topic.  If you would like to read Jesus’ story I suggest you read the Bible (but only if you are Christian, I wouldn’t dream of suggesting you read the Bible if you are not)

Have you read this book? If so, did you like it and what happens in the other half?

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  • After reading your review I’m in two minds about adding this book to my “Want to read” list. Although I would like to see how it is depicted from the four different view points. I will simmer on the idea a bit longer and see how I feel!

    • If you are curious, you should give it a try then.

  • *hee psst you DNF’ed another book, yay you*
    It is always weird when you have ideas about certain settings or time periods and someone takes it and totally messes it up. Reading what you wrote I am sure this would not be a book I would enjoy, thanks for sharing!

    • LOL, Ciska! I intend to finish the other one 🙂

      I didn’t enjoy this book, Ciska. It just made me feel uncomfortable.

  • Isi

    Well, I saw this book on Netgalley, but I didn’t request it just because it was about religion, and I don’t really like this topic. It’s not that I don’t want to have other view of the “history”, it’s because I’m really not interested in it.
    Anyway, I don’t see why Jesus couldn’t have beat anybody or the other apostles couldn’t have sex with whoever they wanted. They were real men; I don’t think that the point of view of the Bible – introducing them as the prefection in human race, all day thinking about God and listening to Jesus – is accurate.
    This is a great topic for discussion 😉

    • Like I said, this is not a book for everyone. And yes, they were real men, but I doubt that language or words were used in biblical times. I didn’t say they didn’t have sex 🙂

      I doubt very much that Jesus hit his father, we were taught as children that God and Jesus were kind, gentle and patient men. This is definitely a topic for discussion. I, however promised my readers my honest opinion and therefore what I wrote above is what I think of this book.

  • I went and looked at the reviews of this book on Goodreads. Wow. People either adore it or really really hate it.
    If you are looking for another book with a different viewpoint on Jesus, I read Iscariot by Tosca Lee earlier this year. I think it gives some good context to the time period and really makes Judas a person instead of a stock villain.

    • Yeah I didn’t like it, but I respect the opinion of those who did and I hope they do the same for me 🙂

      Thank you for your suggestion, I will definitely look up on that book and maybe add it to my TBR list.

  • This sounded interesting until you brought up the points that made you put the book down. I have a feeling we’d be on the same page about certain aspects of the story/book. I love religious fiction, and I love religious texts, but I don’t like when people take a lot of liberty with the subject matter.

    On a side note, you have a beautiful blog.

    • Thank you for the compliment on my blog 🙂

      I think that this book is controversial, but also that many people will love it as much as there are some that won’t. I just didn’t feel comfortable with the way the story was told.

  • Thank you for this review, I think you have told me enough for me to say this is a book I would not like. There is one thing in portraying Jezus and the apostals as human beings, it is another to make them do all kinds of weird stuff.
    So, not my kind of book.

    Kind regards,

    • I agree with you, Bettina. They were all human, but I was uncomfortable with the language and the way it was told. As much as humans do wrong things etc, I doubt that language was used in Biblical times. I also think that once you are set in your beliefs, these things are a bit of a sensitive topic.

  • I LOVED this book. Of course, I dig controversial stuff. I think this would be such a great read for a book club. Talk about things to discuss, whew!!

    • I like controversial too, but I think not on this topic. I agree that this would be a good discussion topic. I am not a very religious person, but I do belief and have my faith and for me a discussion would be a good idea, because everyone can voice their opinion and respect each others’.

      However, I think for the more religious people it wouldn’t be a good discussion, because some people might be angered and then the discussion won’t go well 😉

  • Thanks for your honesty! I’m still torn on whether I want to read it because I’ve heard mixed reviews from people I trust. Chances are I won’t read it any time soon, but if I do I let you know.

    • Thanks, and that’s why I won’t feel bad about writing this negative review, because I will always only write honest reviews. Well, now that you know that it’s either a love or hate book, you know what to expect when you do read it.

  • I think like you I would be uncomfortable reading this book. Well done for at least trying it though.

    • Thanks Jessica. I really tried 🙂

  • I read another review of this book that made it sound like something I would really enjoy, but it’s interesting to hear why you didn’t like it. As for the language, I feel like people have always used profane language in some way. It might not have been the same terms we use today, but I’m sure people spoke crudely in Biblical times. At the same time, though, I can see how reading that kind of language in this setting would be jarring.

    • Yes, I agree that profane language have always been used, but I think it’s the terms that were used in the book that didn’t sit right with me.

      I am not a religious person, but I do have faith. For that reason, although I do like controversial, religion is a topic where I am rather set in my belief. This just made me feel uncomfortable. I am aware there are others that loved the book, and I appreciate and respect their opinion 🙂

  • I really liked this book but, as a Jewish person, can fully 100% see how controversial it is. It’s very much telling the story of Jesus in a fictional way as if he were maybe not the messiah, but “just a human” with an inflated ego. The book is not for everyone, for sure!

    • I don’t think the book is SO bad, I did like how it was written, but the content put me off. I tried to get past it, but couldn’t 🙁 I’m glad you enjoyed it though…

      Definitely not for me 🙂

  • A frank review, Melinda. And I agree with your reasons. I would do the same 🙂

    • Thank you. Yes we must always be honest, even though it might sound like I’ve overreacted, that’s just how I felt 🙁

  • Melinda, thanks for your honesty! I doubt I would have finished the book either. Sorry for the late comment. I’m behind and catching up. 🙂

    • It’s ok, better late than never 🙂

      I did feel a bit bad about not finishing it and responding to it in the way I have, but reflecting back on it, I know that I shouldn’t. Religion, especially mine, is a sensitive topic, and unfortunately I don’t feel comfortable when people take liberty in retelling the tale that I feel strongly about 🙂

  • Religion isn’t an easy topic, whether it is fictional or nonfictional books or whether it is just discussing religion in general… I think religion is one of those topics that pulls a lot of people emotionally & rightfully so within circumstances. I would probably be one of those readers who will actually finish the book, regardless and then form my opinion once I have seen what the ending is. However, I also don’t believe that people were that crude in the bible years but I have often find slight differences in older bible versions (but not vast differences just small things that’s not mentioned in the newer version but the storyline is still the same). I am also not that religious (although I have done bible studies for 3 years), however I do have faith too & that part of Jesus hitting his father doesn’t also sit well with me…

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Celeste. I had to make it clear that my irritation does not come from being very religious, but just that I have faith and that this is not a topic subjected to controversy that I feel comfortable with. I think I’ve been rather sensitive, but I also think it was within reason.