Billy Christ

16103977Title: Billy Christ.

Author: Michael Cameron.

Summary: Young Billy has problems relating to the normal world because he is immature, obsessive and delusional. In fact, when things get really bad his parents take him to see someone who can help – ‘the man in a bow tie.’ Since then it is only in his secret place, in a clearing in the woods near Butler’s Farm, that Billy can be himself. Here he can cut-up road-kill, say his prayers and make gruesome sacrifices to his God – safely watched-over by the shadowy figure of his Guardian Angel. Then one day a mysterious girl enters the clearing and shatters his world for good. Billy’s troubles begin when the girl is found dead a few weeks after he meets her and he is left wondering if maybe he was her killer – he can’t be sure… But he does know who killed her mother – he definitely did that.
Then there is the awkward matter of God: unfortunately for Billy He will keep cropping-up, even when Billy is in the clutches of the girl’s mother – the woman with the interesting curves and ‘busty substances!’ So life isn’t easy for Billy – but then if you’re the new messiah, no one said it would be.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: From very early on in this book until all the way to the end, i was describing it in three ways: Entertaining, funny and easy to read. And that’s ‘easy to read’ in an ‘always wanting to read more’ way. The sections were short enough for me to constantly be thinking, “Just one more…”

The first half of the book is told alternately between the points of view of the title character, Billy, and a girl he finds himself befriended by, Diana. When Diana turns up dead, the story skips ahead several years and is instead told alternately between Billy and Diana’s mother’s point of view. All three character’s voices are distinct and easily recognisable.

Young Billy is, well, oblivious would be the first word that comes to mind. With all his faith wrapped up in God, it seems he has little left for those around him. He has respect in abundance for the authority figures of his parents and the priests-cum-teachers at his Catholic school, but sees himself as more respectable than the other people he comes across in life. Including Diana, at least initially. Having no experience in the ways of lust and love, he doesn’t know what he’s getting into with Diana—or her mother—but he manages to get himself into it anyway, experiencing all the joys of heartache as well.

Young adult Billy is slightly less oblivious, slightly less wrapped up in his religion and has slightly more respect for a wider portion of the general population. Either that or he’s got better at pretending he has. (Spoiler: It’s the latter.) His clumsy advances towards Diana’s mum vary between innocently affectionate and disturbingly stalkerish—at least from her point of view. And the climatic scenes, for me, were filled with a tense uncertainty. As much as i though Billy was innocent of the things he was being accused of, i did not see him as an innocent character.

Ultimately i didn’t want Bill to get a happy ending. If you asked him, Billy may believe he did get one, but i am satisfied with a more ambiguous reading of it. He got away with murder, and walked out of the police station a free man, but his obliviousness lived on, and even faced with the facts of what the reader knew all along about his childhood, he doesn’t understand the life sentence he’s already been living with.

Overall, i loved to hate Billy; i felt only so sorry for him. His character is portrayed very well, the writing style has him LEAPING of the page v. well in my O. A lot of the time, with lines such as this:

“I hate dirtiness and things like squashed chips.”

I found myself reminded of Holden Caulfield, from The Catcher in the Rye. Not because of what Billy was saying, but in how he was saying it, and his thought process.

In the end, what i love most about this book is the fact that it was so hard to put down. It was easy to read, and easy to get lost in. I wouldn’t want to live in Billy’s world, but it was nice to visit.

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About Wendleberry
I'm odd.

2 Responses to Billy Christ

  1. Thank you for the review and for getting under Billy’s skin so accurately. To be honest I’m also not too sure if I like Billy or hate him, feel sorry for him or want to laugh at him. He rather took the book over once I started writing it and for five years he wouldn’t let me finish it but led me on a dance from one piece of madness to another. It was a relief to say goodbye to him at last, but it’s lovely to hear how people react to him now he is out of my head. The publishers have just re-edited the book (too many first draft typos) and re-issued it with a new cover – but I quite miss the old one. So this edition might be a rarity quite soon. All the best. Michael Cameron

    • Wendleberry says:

      Thank you for your comment, and for writing such an interesting character.

      I like this cover best, so i’m glad to have it. I hope the new edition does well, it deserves it.

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