Tuesday, 16 August 2011

There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff

In the beginning there was Bob. And 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 and lots of gorgeous girls. And all of this, he created in just six days. Six days! Congratulations Bob! No wonder Earth is such a mess. Imagine that God is a typical teenage boy. He is lazy, careless, self-obsessed, sex-mad - and about to meet Lucy, the most beautiful girl on earth. Unfortunately, whenever Bob falls in love, disaster follows. Let us pray that Bob does not fall in love with Lucy.

You know when you experience major disconnect with a novel? When everyone else is crying out about how much they love said novel, and glorifying it with fantastic reviews, and you just can't seem to see what they have seen in it? Yes, that. That is the way I feel about There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff.

I should have loved it. The premise is just glorious - the idea that God is a feckless, ignorant, self-centred teenage boy. The biting humour did appeal to me. The idea that God just created everything on the fly in six days, and then needed a lie-in to recover. The fact that God has to be monitored by Mr B, a man who seems, more than anything, like an accountant - ready to dot the eyes and cross the tees. I even liked the philosophical discussion disguised as God/Bob's meanderings.

And yet, for me it failed as a reading experience. I think this was mainly because the plot itself was so slight - and, boy, did it get repetitive. God/Bob loves and adores Lucy, but how can he be with her? He gets in a strop and the weather changes. Mr B agonises over how to get God/Bob to pay attention to the events happening as a result of his incompetence. And repeat, ad boredom. I hate to say it, but I became bored of There is No Dog and ended up skimming the last twenty pages or so just to say that I had completed it. For me, it felt as though Rosoff had come up with this wonderful idea (which truly should be celebrated as something absolutely unique - and had the bonkers flavour of something written by Douglas Adams, in the humour and surreal aspects) but then failed to truly deliver.

As much as I *loved* the Eck (and I really did!), I failed to see how the plot involving his imminent demise as the dinner of Emoto Hed, another member of the godly pantheon, really fit into this story. And God/Bob's mother Mona drove me mad - she was so incredibly annoying, in the way she blithely careered through life (although maybe this did say something about the manner in which she behaved as God/Bob's parent).

I am left wondering if this was a failing by me as a reader, rather than Rosoff as a writer. It is clear that There is No Dog will be very appealing to many, many people. So I leave you with the recommendation to first read this review and then make your own mind up on whether to go forth and read. Usually I like to offer a recommendation on a novel as to why to buy or not, but with There is No Dog, I simply can't say either way whether you'll like it. Some people will like it and some people will hate it and, unfortunately, I fall into the latter group. Although the premise is so super cool!

1 comment:

  1. I'm a fan of satirical comical spec-fic, but I think I'll give this one a miss. Repetitive unrequited romance doesn't sound like awesome reading to me. Thanks for the review :)