You Can Live Forever by Julie Maxwell; Zoology by Ben Dolnick; Gifted by Nikita Lalwani; Goodbye Lucille by Segun Afolabi - review by Simon Baker

Simon Baker

Simon Baker on Four First Novels

  • Julie Maxwell, 
  • Ben Dolnick, 
  • Nikita Lalwani, 
  • Segun Afolabi

Alice, the heroine of Julie Maxwell’s darkly comic debut, You Can Live Forever, is a member of the Worldwide Saints of God, a Christian sect which promises immortality to its followers. Their leader, William P Pope, is the author of such books as Christian Life on Other Planets, and of a monthly bulletin, ‘The Plain Truth’, which contains all the latest prohibitions (mostly onanism-related). Alice’s horrid mother and dull brother are dedicated ‘Worldwiders’, but her father, who married Alice’s mother before she converted, is not. He is a cheerfully amoral Irishman, devoted to Alice but willing to cremate murder victims in his incinerator for the right fee. 

Recently, Alice has begun questioning the truthfulness of The Plain Truth. She is a bright Oxford student who thinks for herself and therefore struggles with a religion which does its members’ thinking for them. However, she fears that apostasy might be met with damnation, and so tries (without much success,

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