Eternity can be a quite a long time, that’s why God and Lucifer like to place bets between the two, each attempting to get one over on the other, but this time the bet is going to be different, this time each is going to have to live out one year as a mortal, something neither one is fully prepared for.
It may come as a surprise to know that your favorite zombie is the son of a preacher, a Southern Baptist preacher no less, so I grew up hearing a lot about heaven, hell, and the never ending struggle between the two. Funny thing about Southern Baptists, they doom themselves to extremely rebellious children by way of what they teach constitutes a one way trip to Brimstone Town, home of Old Scratch and his underworld army. By this, I mean they make it sound a hell (I’m not apologizing for that pun) of a lot more fun than heaven would be. All the good music gets you sent to hell, all the good movies get you sent to hell, all the good books gets you sent to hell, and dressing in anything less than you Sunday finest gets you sent to hell. Basically, everything you’re starting to get really interested in during that odd transition from being a kid to being a teenager will get you sent to hell, or at least that’s what you’re told, so it just makes it come across as if all the fun stuff is going to be down below, the painful torture kind of gets pushed aside. It makes for an interesting upbringing to say the least, but I got lucky because I had a cool uncle who liked to smuggle me into a cheap theatre not too far from where I grew up, one that showed older horror movies and foreign films I would have never seen otherwise, and when I say smuggled, I mean he just gave the guy running the window a couple of dollars to look the other way because no one really cared what happened there. Being told how hell worthy these movies were only made me beg my uncle to take me to see them that much more, so I kind of owe a Southern Baptist upbringing for making me the movie buff I am today. Thankfully, by the time yours truly became the fine, upstanding zombie I am today, Dad had calmed down a bit. I still had to pray before meals, dad just started ignoring the screams.
Once in a blue moon, the good lord above gets together with the bad dude below, and the two place bets against one another, something they’ve been doing for a very, very long time, stretching all the way back to the garden incident that got us all wearing clothes, which, considering how I look naked, was probably a good thing. Those previous bets aren’t as important though because Lucifer has come up with a new and even more interesting challenge for this go around. He wants himself and God to become completely mortal for one whole year, not kind of mortal where they can still have access to their abilities, but completely mortal, no omnipotence, no divination, no invulnerabilities, nothing. They will have to live and feel just like any other human on this planet, meaning they can get sick, they can get scared, they can feel pain, and, more importantly, they can die. They will still know who and what they are, but they won’t be able to use any of their, ahem, godlike powers. God accepts, and the two are ready to begin their challenge with Lucifer taking the name Nick and God going with Abe. Lucifer hopes to prove to his father, yes, that would be God, that humans aren’t quite the amazing creatures God thinks they are, while God wants to prove otherwise, though each has personal motivations as well (Lucifer enjoys the thought of proving dad wrong, because let’s face it, mortal or otherwise, everyone wants to prove their parents wrong, and God wants a second chance to set things right with his son because even God has to learn his mistakes when it comes to children). What neither of them expects is the difficulty present in being a mortal, and how much being human might change who they are.
Okay, we should probably get something out of the way right off the bat because I can already see some people focusing way too much on one aspect of the story, the fact that it deals with the Christian, or more specifically the Abrahamic, God and Devil. Here’s the thing, even though Nick and Abe uses the idea of God and the Devil that most closely resembles Christianity’s version, the similarities end quickly as Nick and Abe is its own unique story that very rarely ventures into Biblical tales. Yes, there are a couple of times, but even those are generally stated only in vague terms that don’t come across as at all attempting to impart any kind of religious significance upon the overall story. So, for instance, when the story of humanity’s expulsion from Eden comes up, it’s only mentioned briefly, nothing is specifically discussed about it other than God mentioning he doesn’t care for how people remember it, and then the story moves on. Are there going to be people that get upset? Absolutely, but people got upset when they didn’t put the X-Men in bright spandex for the big screen, so people will get upset at anything. I only want to touch on this so that no one bases their decision to read Nick and Abe on its characters, whether that be because you don’t want to get into what you worry might be a religious book or you’re worried about it being a heavy handed criticism of religion, both worries are unfounded. At its heart¸ Nick and Abe is the story of a father and son trying to patch up their broken relationship while attempting to live in a world that they both realize they understand less than they thought. It just so happens that this father and son are God and the Devil. If you let their characters bother you, you’ll not only be missing out on a great tale, but some of the best metaphors I’ve heard used to describe what a relationship between the two might be like, metaphors I’d love to go on about, because they are that good, but ones I’d rather not spoil for the reader. Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…
The weight of the book rests squarely on the shoulders of its two main characters, Nick and Abe, two people you’re actually able to very easily separate from their religious counterparts thanks to not only how well they’re written, but also because of how different they are from the source material. These aren’t the perfect yet always angry God or the evil for the sake of being evil Devil that you’ve come to know (though Nick does have a knack for advertising that I found to be fitting), these are characters you’ve never seen before. Even their dialogue and speech patterns are nothing like you’d expect, further separating them from expectations you might have and allowing both to grow and progress in a manner the reader won’t be expecting. This is especially important due to how they grow throughout the tale, though they’ve been around since long before humans started writing about them, neither Nick nor Abe have any idea what it’s like to be humans. They watched humanity progress, they interacted here and there in their own ways (with Nick having a bit more experience in the interacting arena than his father), but they’ve never actually felt or experienced what it’s like to be a mortal with all the frailties, pleasures, and pains that mortals deal with on a day to day basis. It makes for an interesting read as the two come to terms with how little they really understand humanity, both of their opinions and ideas changing as time goes on until they’re no longer sure they ever knew anything about the planet they’d been watching over for ages. They really struggle with it too, coming to terms with not only their relationship with humanity, but their relationship with each other as well, and you can’t help but feel for them throughout it all. Empathizing with a deity isn’t something I’ve seen done so smoothly, but Nick and Abe come across as very sympathetic characters, especially when it comes to their strained relationship.
It’s this strained relationship between the two that makes up the central story in Nick and Abe. Much like any father and son who disagree on what’s important in life, the two have drifted apart to such an extent that neither one can see any way to bridge the rather large gap that’s grown between them, and it’s here that the separation between the religious versions of these two and Lex Jones’ versions become most important, and you can see just how much thought and effort was put into their creation. I often forgot that I was reading about two titans of creation and became lost in them as simply father and son. The knowledge of who they really were didn’t seem as important as what they were trying to do, both in their bet and with the attempts to find some kind of common ground with which to rebuild their relationship. It was touching without having to get overly sentimental, extremely emotional without becoming sappy, and, for anyone who’s ever had a troubled connection with their parent or parental figure, very real. I can’t say enough how well written this was.
Nick and Abe comes highly recommended from this zombie. It’s an excellent look at the problems between parents and their children using common place characters in very different ways, characters that are usually only relegated to wise speeches, angry rantings, hellish torture, and damning temptation. If while reading it, the book becomes a little blurry, don’t worry, it’s just your eyes getting kind of watery.
You Can Purchase It Here: Nick and Abe on Amazon
The Undead Review
Written By: Lex H Jones
Published By: Whiteley Publishing
Release Year: 2015