Ori Scott is supposed to be the savior of mankind. At least that’s what everyone tells him. But Ori just wants to be left alone. He’s tired of being called “Jesus Kid” and stared at like he’s some kind of freak. It’s not his fault his mother is one of the few humans to survive an extinction event and further still, managed to survive a sting from one of the wildly dangerous booweeds that now inhabit the planet. It was dumb luck and personally Ori wishes people would stop thinking his blood could cure the world.
But when a crooked cabal arrest Ori on trumped up charges and dump him in a research facility for experimentation, he finds the only friend he has left is policeman Jack Doll. Jack is ordinary, but he knows Ori is pretty damn special and he’s willing to risk everything, including his life, to help the man escape. With everything stacked against them, Ori and Jack will have to do the impossible and survive outside the protected home they’ve always known.
Cataclysmic event? Humans struggling to survive? Giant plant monsters? Uh, yes, please. In theory, Jesus Kid hits all my favorite fantasy buttons. Unfortunately, in execution this story is kind of a mess. But lets start with the good stuff first. The plot is fairly original and I give the author credit for building a strong sense of time and place. We aren’t given every little detail, but instead we’re given a broad picture that allows us to understand the world in which Jack and Ori live. All of the characters, main and secondary, are well described and given established backstories. Ori isn’t particularly likable as he often comes of as selfish and consumed with an interest in doing drugs and not much else. Yet there is no doubt he has a story to tell and it is far from ordinary. I was never really sure what Jack saw in Ori or why he was so consumed by him. As a result, the romance here never really works, but I think on the whole it’s really a secondary plot anyway.
So now for Jesus Kid’s biggest issue: a storyline that is garbled, rambling, and far too long. It rarely reads as cohesive and easily a third of this book could have been trimmed away and doing so may have clarified some of the writing. There are some rather large plot holes that never really get answered or are so tangled that they never make sense – such as why Ori is needed for a cure in the first place. We assume that his blood will help fight the booweed, but this isn’t really as clear as it should be. There are characters that are supposed to be dead that suddenly show up towards the end of the book and while this is explained, like a lot of other incidents, it feels tacked on or just shoved into the plot. The pacing needs a lot of work here and part of that is tied to an overall need for editing. The reality is this book was nearly a DNF for me because it never managed to capture my interest beyond the first few chapters.
Despite this, I think some readers will enjoy Jesus Kid. The story is something of a jumble and it needs trimming down. But for a lot of fantasy fans, there is an intriguing idea here, and a well-built world. The characters, even the unlikable ones, are complex and there is plenty happening on page. So while Jesus Kid really didn’t work for me, I think it has something to offer fans of post-apocalyptic books.