Saturday 29 October 2011

REVIEW - 'There Is No Dog', Meg Rosoff (Penguin, 2011)

It turns out that God is a teenage boy, a spoilt brat called Bob, whose whims and urges have resulted in a rather erratic existence on Earth. Only his unassuming assistant, Mr. B, is there to try and clear up any disasters that occur. When Bob falls in love with zoo-keeper, Lucy, how far-reaching will the consequences be for life on Earth?

Bit of an oddity, this one. Not entirely unsurprising given this is Meg Rosoff, and I never know quite what to expect when I pick up one of her books. It can vary between automatic entry to top 5 books of all time (How I Live Now), to 'is that it?' (Just In Case). This one definitely falls closer to the latter, but didn't quite hit the mark in the heart-breaking stakes. But it's just not that sort of book...

I've never come across a YA book quite like this one. It breaks all the rules of the genre (head-jumping mid-page, paragraph, sentence) but gets away with it. Only just, mind. This is down to the skill of the writer - I'm sure I've said this before, but I don't think I've come across an author who can say so much with so few words. Her prose is so intelligent and succinct and I found myself marveling at it at least once a chapter. This involves much eyebrow raising, in case you were wondering.

Hopefully you've read the synopsis as I'm not sure I'll do a great job of explaining it. In short, god is a teenage boy, which explains why earth is so f****d up. Whenever he falls in love, or lust, natural disasters ensue. Or 'sex weather' as it is so brilliantly put.

In this scenario, we get the perspectives from pretty much all the supporting characters - his depressed right-hand pleb, he pet 'Eck' (a sort of furry penguin creature), his sozzled mother, the secret love of his would-be girlfriend's mother. You get the picture. At times, it felt more like I was watching a play rather than reading a novel. You never really get under the skin of any of the characters, but this didn't really matter too much, as it never felt like the sort of book you are supposed emotionally invest in. More like a fable of human nature.

A unique, thought-provoking read. Big ideas. It makes me happy to think of this book creating discussions and debates between teenagers.


  1. Hi, Anna! A YA author who can say so much with so few words? I must say that's rare in the YA genre. I find the opposite to be the trend - with bloated books stretched out into trilogies full of filler scenes. Thank you for your review.

    Stephanie ~Misfit Salon~

  2. Hello Stephanie! I'm glad you liked the review - I think Meg Rosoff is pretty unique in this respect - I can't describe how much I love 'How I Live Now'. It's rather brilliant.

  3. I've only read one Meg Rosoff, How I Love Now, which I thought was EXCELLENT.

    I can't wait to try There Is No Dog, I like the concept.

  4. I'm really looking forward to this one, but I've been reading a lot of mixed reviews of it lately so have decided to wait a bit on reading it.