When I read “Children of No One” last year, I was overcome by conflicting emotions. I often found myself repulsed and sickened by the story while at the same time I was always intrigued and entertained. When I got a copy of “I Am the New God” by Nicole Cushing, I wondered if the author would be able to capture the complexity of that novella in this new story.
Gregory Bryce has finally achieved a small level of freedom. Due to his mental and emotional problems, he had always been sheltered by his parents as they sought to keep him safe from the world. Now that he is in college, he is on his own for the first time and experiencing a lot of new things. Everything seemed to be going well for Greg. That all changed when he received the first letter.
The letter is from a hierophant who believes the Gregory is destined to become a god or a devil. It is up to the hierophant to guide Greg on his road to godhood. The hierophant, a fallen minister, has received the seven steps to godhood from John the Baptist and feels that it is his destiny to lead Greg to godhood. As the process begins, however, the hierophant becomes convinced that there is little difference between a god and a devil and he is afraid that Greg could go astray. Greg sets out on the path that the letters set forth and begins a slide into his destiny. The outcome of this journey is very uncertain.
In “I Am the New God,” Cushing takes the reader on a tour through a couple disturbed minds that tends to warp reality. This is a fairly brutal novella that is shocking not only for its graphic nature at times but also for its unfiltered look at what shapes reality and religion. Cushing is not afraid to shock the reader and she pulls no punches in telling the story. As with “Children of No One,” there are times in which the book is shocking and disturbing and there are no apologies for this. The novella is a very dark and frightening look at religion and how it can shape the world even if it is not in the way that is easily recognizable. This story delves to the darkest depths of the human psyche and illustrates the fine line between creation and cruelty. There is little difference between perversion and perfection and Cushing crafts a very strong story that leaves the reader wondering about the difference between good and evil.
“I Am the New God” is a strange look at religion and the human mind. The story is thought provoking even while it is brutal. Cushing does not shy away from shocking the reader into thinking about what it means to be human and what godhood really is. By highlighting Greg’s mental state, the reader is left to question what is more insane: the blind worship of gods that cannot be proven or the gods themselves. Greg may be a god in the making or he may simply be a mentally ill college student who believes that he is becoming a god. The answer to this question is sure to linger in the readers mind long after the last word is read.