The premise is a simple one: What if God were a teenage boy?
In the hands of any other author, the book would have been gimmicky, silly and slapstickish. But There Is No Dog is by the amazing, surprising and delightful Meg Rosoff, so we know that we’re in for a treat.
In There Is No Dog, God is indeed a teenage boy. He watches over Earth with the help of Mr. B, his tired and somewhat frustrated by his assistant. Mr. B. Has reason to be frustrated, for there are many things wrong with the way God has been running things.
After winning Earth in a poker game, Mona (a Goddess of some renown) hands the job of God over to her son who is insolent, spoiled and not all that brilliant. He created the earth in six days because he was too tired and lazy to take any longer with it.
Mr. B has been left to clean up the mess, one prayer at a time. But there is only so much he can do. For answering one prayer might affect the schism of things in another way. Cure one child of rabies and perhaps the stock markets crash? Help one girl’s dying mother and maybe the polar ice caps dry up? And the fact that God (whose name is Bob) created mortals in his own image is most troubling to Mr. B. How can a planet filled with insolent, greedy, intolerant boobs like Bob possibly survive?
However survive it must, even if God doesn’t want anything to do with it. He is currently obsessed with a young mortal girl named Lucy, an assistant at the zoo. He loves her. He wants to marry her. He wants to have sex with her; and preferably not in the form of a swan this time. God isn’t too sure what he was thinking when he did that.
When their courtship begins, strange things begin to happen. Driven by the lusts and feelings of a teenage boy, the weather starts to be affected by Bob’s wants and desires. Snow falls one day to be replaced by floods the next only to be replaced by sunshine. And then the rain begins to fall.
Earth is under siege by the weather and by Gods emotions. Mr. B is desperate. As floods begin to sweep across Earth, he begins to wonder, if he doesn’t fix this mess, who will? While God is off following is pecker to prettier pastures, who will look after those that are on Earth?
Told with a deft hand and a keen eye for detail, Meg Rosoff has written her best book yet. It is also her funniest. I never thought a novel about God, religion, the fate of the human race, beliefs, creationism and love could be funny, but There Is No Dog is downright hilarious.
The joy of a Meg Rosoff novel is that you never really know what kind of story you’re going to get. In How I Live Now, three young children must survive an apocalyptic world. In Just In Case, a young boy creates a new image and changes his name from David to Justin but is deterred by Fate. What I Was, we are treated to a love story of sorts that takes place at a boys boarding school where no one and nothing is as it seems. In The Bride’s Farewell, a historical novel, Pell leaves on the day of her wedding to discover herself, only to discover that some things about herself she already knew. In Vamoose, a young girl gives birth to a moose baby and has to come to terms with her non-human child.
Rosoff never writes the same thing twice and is constantly surprising and constantly delightful. The surprises and delight are even more so in There Is No Dog. And though the novels that came before it are all gems of particular hues, There Is No Dog shines brightest for me. It’s funny, ingenious, captivating and wonderful.
What is truly captivating about the novel is how human the immortal characters are. Rosoff shows us through plight, clever word play and everyday situations that even the divine can be human. Is it a commentary on religion and spirituality? Is it a commentary on what humans do to the world, the plight of the environment and the animals that live within the world? Perhaps.
But even more so, it is about the faith that we must have in each other and the belief in miracles that keeps us whole and positively brimming with life.
Now that is something worth reading about. All I can say is: Read this book. It is beautiful, witty, funny, delightful and wonderful in every way. Read this book and believe in the possibility of miracles.