3 out of 4 stars
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College is a unique moment in one’s life. It's when one gets the first taste of the freedom and responsibilities of adulthood while going through many perspective-changing experiences. This is especially true for Hunter Stockton, a young man aspiring to be a journalist. His best friend is the infamous Jeremy Thompson, who has little to no respect for rules, authority, and basic human decency, choosing to make the most out of anything regardless of the consequences. Despite being repeatedly warned by others, Hunter always sees himself getting dragged by his friend into several insane situations.
Ray Pierson’s God’s Cruel Joke is a comedy-drama that combines philosophical reflections and all of the debaucheries one could expect from college life. As he narrates the story and describes the various exploits and adventures he takes part in, Hunter adds observations that connect the events to broader aspects of existence in society.
While the narration is one of the novel’s unique points and an element that could turn this into a great book, it often feels meandering and tiresome. Hunter’s monologues sometimes go on for too long, featuring awkward sentences ("The universe has an odd perfection to it, we would like to think that there are perfect people, but they all pale in comparison") and repetitions (in the first chapter, for example, the expression "let's face it" is used three times in two paragraphs).
What I liked the most about the book was the interesting relationship between Hunter and Jeremy, especially how it relates to the former’s psyche. A part of the main character questions why he follows such an irresponsible, megalomaniacal person, but another part craves for a glimpse into chaos, the unpredictable, the underbelly of society. In this sense, Jeremy can be seen as a sort of drug for Hunter, a way to escape the mundane and experience the extraordinary.
The book could use another round of editing, as I found six errors, mostly misplaced punctuation and misspelled words, on top of the awkward sentences mentioned earlier. Because of this and the somewhat tiring monologues, I rate God’s Cruel Joke 3 out of 4 stars and recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories filled with wild adventures, drugs, and sex. This is definitely not a book for younger audiences due to the high number of profanities and mature themes. Similarly, if you’re uncomfortable with crude humor and obscenity in general, you’ll likely want to skip this one.
God's Cruel Joke
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