I'll be honest. More than one person pressured me to read Christopher Moore's Lamb, and the reasons they gave for why I would like it- that it's hilarious, that it gives Christianity a round roasting- were exactly the reasons I wasn't interested.As a former Southern Baptist, I feel like I hardly need anyone to help me see all of the ways in which Christianity falls short. And so much religious humor comes across less as...well, humor, and more as mean-spirited and bitter.Lamb, I'm relieved to say, manages to transcend the cheap shots and deliver a warm, affectionate send-up of the Gospel As We Know It while sneaking in a few lessons along the way.The story follows Jesus and his best friend and staunchest protector Levi-who-is-called-Biff through the notoriously unreported first 30 years of the messiah's life. As Jesus (known here as Joshua) navigates the muddy waters of being the Son of God, Biff journeys with him- learning his own lessons about life and love and often carrying out the morally gray tasks that a Son of God simply cannot, no matter how necessary they may be. We all know how Joshua's story ends, but in this case the joy is all in the journey and not the destination.In fact, the story loses some of its steam once Biff and Joshua make their way back home, with the ending in particular feeling somewhat rushed. Moore doesn't seem to quite know what to do with Biff or with poor Mary of Magdala once they've gotten Joshua where he needs to be, and it shows.Nevertheless, Lamb has plenty to offer. There's a great deal of fun for theology dorks, a few genuinely heart-warming moments, and enough hilarity to keep the reader going through the shakier patches of story; in the end it somehow all manages to pull together to make an excellent read.