Annotation: Bob is an average nineteen-year-old guy: he’s lazy, doesn’t want too much responsibility, and spends most of his time dreaming about members of the opposite sex. The only problem is that Bob was actually appointed God of a small, unimportant planet called Earth millennia ago, and his coworker, Mr. B, has spent thousands of years trying to get him to care more about the world he hastily created in seven days.
Personal thoughts: I have to start out by saying that this was one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read. The follow-up statement to that, however, is that I think that’s the point. Meg Rosoff doesn’t talk down to the reader; she trusts that teens will be able to see the humor and irony in what she writes and she is correct in that many, though not all, probably will. I would have trouble recommending this to a teen if I was unsure of their stance on tinkering with the whole story of creation, but for open-minded readers, this is something that they’re sure to enjoy.
Plot summary: In the beginning, God created the Earth in seven days, but only because he was lazy and didn’t want to spend the time really thinking things through. This is what Mr. B has had to deal with for millennia: a nineteen-year-old named Bob who was only appointed as God of the small, insignificant planet called Earth because his mother won him the job in a poker game. Now, after thousands of years of trying to fix the mess Bob made, Mr. B has had enough and has put in his resignation, hoping that the powers of the universe will assign him to a better, more orderly world. Bob, on the other hand, has bigger concerns than human suffering, death, floods, and tsunamis: he is in love. Lucy, a twenty-one-year-old assistant zookeeper, is the most beautiful of Bob’s creations that he has ever laid eyes on. Bob has fallen in love with mortals before, always to the dismay of Mr. B as natural disasters, plague and calamity usually ensue, but Lucy is different. Bob wants to court Lucy properly, taking her on dates, seducing her (without changing himself into a minotaur or a giant eagle), and seeking her hand in marriage. But how does an all-powerful God work up the nerve to ask a pretty girl out?
Review: The latest novel from award-winning author Meg Rosoff (her first book, How I Live Now, won the Michael L. Printz Award), is, in a word, different, but an interesting choice for adventurous and open-minded young adults. In the first chapters, it is clear that the reader is in for something more than a little bit quirky. God is a nineteen-year-old boy who’s fantasies about the opposite sex seem to take up most of his time. Also included in the cast are Mr. B, the middle-aged man who was assigned to work with Bob in his creation and maintenance of the Earth, Mona, Bob’s beautiful but drunken mother who won his job in a poker game, and Eck, Bob’s one-of-a-kind pet who’s powers of observation are far greater than anyone realizes. There are many subplots in the novel, but the main focus of the story is Bob’s infatuation with the beautiful and kind mortal, Lucy. Whenever Bob falls in love with one of his creations there are serious environmental repercussions, and throughout the novel torrential downpours leading to overwhelming flooding are connected to Bob’s successes or failures at seducing Lucy. There is also a runaway capybara, a cruel friend of Mona’s with plans to cook and eat Eck, and flying whales. The novel is well-written and inventive, almost like a dream sequence that gets weirder with each page. There is No Dog is a good choice for teens who want something truly unique and aren’t afraid of a hefty amount of oddness. For the average reader, however, this one might be a little too out there to be appealing.
Reading level: Grade 8+
Similar titles: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams.
Themes: God, creation, love, responsibility, mother/son relationships.
Awards/Reviews: Starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly and Horn Book. Written by award-winning author.
Series Information: N/A
Discussion questions:- Why do you think Mr. B wasn’t initially given the job of God of the Earth? Do you think that Bob being assigned to the planet was a mistake? Why?
- What do you think it was about Lucy that caused Bob to become so infatuated?
- How was the weather tied to Bob’s feelings for Lucy?
- Describe the significance of Eck in the story. What role did he play in the plot? Do you think he was an important part of the story? Why?
- Do you think Mona is a good mother or a bad mother? Why?
- How is Meg Rosoff’s writing style different from other authors you’ve read? How is it similar?