I first found out about the book Nevada through my favorite band Showbread. Their lead singer, Joshua Porter (more commonly known as Josh Dies), is a musical and literary hero of mine (the guy’s a genius when it comes to writing lyrics, if you ask me), so when I found out he had started writing novels, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy.
Nevada unfolds the apocalyptic story of America’s ensnarement by a large, talking reptile named Belial. Beginning with the bizarre discovery of a cave inhabited by dinosaurs in Nevada’s desert, Belial reveals himself to the public and sweet-talks his way into the people’s hearts by offering them an ear-tickling doctrine where self is god. Eventually, Belial’s popularity gains him the power to set up the “Trash of God” center in Los Angeles, a place for his faithful to swarm together, with the idea of utopia in mind. And many weird things happen (sorry I won’t spoil it).
While the “end times” theme of this story may come off as trite, Porter employs multiple techniques to keep this book interesting and shocking.
Porter’s narrative through multiple perspectives of numerous characters and “confiscated” pieces of media (like blog articles) gives the book diversity through each different voice through which the story is told. Porter successfully develops at least six distinct, first-person viewpoints through the characters of an adulterous wife, her angry husband, a mildly mentally disabled man, a womanizer, a frantic mother, and a man with anti-social personality disorder. I was fascinated to see how each person’s account worked together to build up the over-arching story.
Side note: Porter also throws in a large handful of celebrity names into the story—e.g. Ashton Kutcher, Anne Hathaway—writing them in as some of the first to come to Belial’s T.O.G center and help with his projects. I just never thought I would read a book that mentioned Ashlee Simpson. Anyhow…
I also loved Porter’s own writing style: raw, non-sugarcoated narrative with an ability to give extremely graphic descriptions in few words. Since most characters give first-person accounts, their emotions and thoughts are not vague in any way; you will learn what goes on in the heads of each character, including the womanizer and the anti-social man—such unambiguous thoughts are often as disturbing as interesting.
As the story begins with bizarre, it seems to grow increasingly dark, with increasing amounts of gory episodes—one in particular absolutely shocked me (although I should say the highest caliber of violence I’ve experienced is probably among 24 and Gladiator). But this book is not just some off-the-wall, people-die-in-nasty-ways sort of novel; the spiritual undertones are hard to miss, and Porter never lets his stories end unredeemed.
Though so strange and harsh, beauty triumphs in the end, and, yes, I did cry a little in the end. The books I love tend to do that to me.