Wednesday, April 25, 2012

There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff

[description from B&N]

What if God were a teenaged boy?

In the beginning, Bob created the heavens and the earth and the beasts of the field and the creatures of the sea, and twenty-five million other species (including lots of cute girls). But mostly he prefers eating junk food and leaving his dirty clothes in a heap at the side of his bed.

Every time he falls in love, Earth erupts in natural disasters, and it's usually Bob's beleaguered assistant, Mr. B., who is left cleaning up the mess. So humankind is going to be very sorry indeed that Bob ever ran into a beautiful, completely irresistible girl called Lucy . . .

I didn't have much of a clue of what I was getting into with There Is No Dog, but I did figure it would be, at the very least, a bit weird. That turned out to be rather true, but in the best way possible.

There Is No Dog's eccentricities reveal themselves from chapter one, where Lucy is introduced as a girl who pretty much exudes sunshine and happiness. She speaks in such a proper fashion, in a way that almost reminds me of Mary Poppins, which is initially off-putting but fits because it further separates her from the often more human-seeming Bob. I enjoyed this distance it created between her and the immortal characters, for I think this novel is more about the differences and attempts by the immortal characters, especially Bob, to fit in to the human world instead of centering on a linear, action-driven plot. Which, really, makes for quite a thought-provoking read; there's a lot of time that can be spent pondering Bob's human qualities, his inability to control his supernatural tendencies, the role of the other gods and goddesses in the universe, and a whole load of other big religious topics, all of which are interesting and worth the effort.

Other parts of this book I'm not as big a fan of, though. Despite the intriguing questions the characters raise, I never really found myself actually enjoying reading about them because I just didn't care much. The novel is told in third person, but the perspective changes to different characters so often that I never really a got a sense of full personality from any of them, especially the humans. It also didn't help that the characters often make decisions or say things that just didn't make sense to me, like when Bob claimed to be in love with Lucy and when she seemed to return the feelings so quickly. Maybe the speed of their love was intentional to show Bob's inability to comprehend the humanity he created, but I still dislike such fast-moving romance.

It's definitely not for everyone because of its admittedly underdeveloped characters and lack of a concrete plot, but There Is No Dog is charming and funny in its quirkiness, as well being rather intelligent and original.

Book details: Putnam Juvenile/Hardcover/$17.99

Source: sent by publisher for review

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