GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Anointed: The Passion of Timmy Christ, CEO | I Smell Sheep

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Anointed: The Passion of Timmy Christ, CEO

A while back I was sent a copy of Anointed by a friend saying I might want to give it a read. On the back cover the book proclaims it's "A tale in the tradition of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett." Now some of you know this already, but I am a huge fan of both of those authors. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series is one of my favorite sci-fi book series and Pratchett's Discworld books remain an ongoing favorite. Sadly, Anointed does not hold up with these other books and is kind of a disappointing read. But more on that later, you're probably wondering what the book with a title like this is all about.

The premise of the book was actually really promising. And individual named Timothy Webb, normally a mild-mannered school teacher from Atlanta, Georgia finds himself as the newly-anointed Timmy Christ, head of the Christ Corporation. Basically in this book's universe after Jesus Christ, referred to as the founder, left earth a Christ Corporation was founded sometime afterwards. The corporation is headed by an unbroken line of Christs who serve for up to thirty-three years as the figurehead of the corporation. Obviously the corporation is more interested in making money and its corporate image rather than keeping to the teachings of Christ, help the poor, feed the hungry, etc. etc. Timothy Webb suddenly finds himself in a position of great authority and has the ability to change how the corporation works, providing overall a good satire of religion and corporate policies. Well, at least a good set up. The book tries its best but just doesn't quite get where it needs to go.

My main issue is the Anti-Christ plot that runs through this book. Just as there's always been a Christ, there's always been an Anti-Christ. This is different from Satan, mind you. She shows up too (Yes, it's a she) but she's more like the traditional Hebrew interpretation of Satan. She's like God's attorney general, yeah she prosecutes people on God's orders, but she's part of the good guys. Well kind of, it's a little more complex in the book but we'll just compromise and say Satan's one of the good guys. The Anti-Christ, however, is the main villain, however he's only as strong as the Christ he opposes. When most of the Christs are complacent CEO's happy to smile to crowds, the Anti-Christ is an ineffectual tempter at best. When Timothy becomes Christ, with a real power to change the world, then the Anti-Christ levels up too and it looks like the earth is in some serious trouble.

At least, that's what the book makes out to be. Really, I never quite understood what was going on with the Anti-Christ plot. He has to kill the Christ and take the key lets him take over the world? I get that it's bad but....why? In fact, why does the Anti-Christ even exist? At one point he changes during Timothy's tenure as Christ, what was that all about? I'm really confused, to be honest. Also, so the book's about 300 pages in length. Decently sized, not as long as the doorstops I seem to read exclusively now, but a good length for a story. Except the story doesn't really get going until page 170. I feel like we spend the first half of the book and then some just sort of idling in clutch and we don't really get into gear until the 170 point. For a book of this length it's downright unacceptable. When you're writing a book it's all right to take some time to orient us and get us used to the characters, but if you're going to have a major plot you need to get to it well before the halfway point in terms of pages. Otherwise it's going to be hard for readers to keep their interest.

Finally, I want to comment on the comparison to Adams and Pratchett. I can see how people might make the comparison because the book has a lot of non-sequitur humor. I'm sure a lot of us remember the whale and bowl of petunias in Hitchhiker's Guide which was a funny, if only tangentially related part of the book. Steele has his own little bit about the perspective of dogs in much the same vein. The problem is that some of Steele's other jokes rely on repeating one word over and over until the word loses all meaning despite what I feel is him trying to make a point. I'll provide an example of what I mean. Bear with me that this is not from the book, but is much like the issue I'm talking about.

"The problem with problems is that they're problematic, and problematic problems prove to be a problem to solve. But what people don't realize about problems is that the problem with problems is that we see them as a problem to begin with, and a problem wouldn't be so problematic if we didn't view it as a problem."

Did the word problem just lose all meaning for you? It's kind of like that. A word gets repeated so many times you cease to attach any meaning to it and it becomes another collection of letters.

To be fair, this is Steele's first novel and so it's probably a little rough around the edges, much like some of Pratchett's early novels feel to me. (I don't feel like he really hit his stride until about Pyramids or Guards! Guards!) Hopefully he can develop his writing style and make some really good books in the future. If you like religious comedy, Good Omens being a good example, you'll probably get a laugh or two out of this book.

I give it two and a half sheep, but really encourage Zachary Steele to keep trying and give us more books in the future.


Adventurer's Rule #28: Don't expect a straight answer from god(s).


  1. Problematic problems and certainly problematic for me and complicate my problematic perceptions :) Thank you so much for sharing today - you are appreciated.

  2. And the blurb was so promising! sorry it didn't live up to it. you did a great job of explaining the problems with the story, great review :)