There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff

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There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff

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Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Witty, philosophical, clever and surreal, there is a lot to like in There Is No Dog. But a slim plot and unengaging characters were a little disappointing for me.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: August 2011
Publisher: Puffin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0141327162

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Ok. Imagine God is actually a teenage immortal, much in the vein of teenage humans. He rushes his coursework (creation) and while there are flashes of brilliance and potential in it, there's no real thought or organisation and so the whole thing doesn't really work properly. But God is too busy having a lie-in or lusting after buxom young women to be ironing out these sorts of boring creases in the making of a successful planet.

Imagine too, that the weather is tied to God's moods - well, it would be, wouldn't it? What with him being Creator and all. So when God is in (teenaged) love, his moodswings and frustrations send hurricanes, floods, droughts and all manner of pestilences to plague his hapless creations.

In There Is No Dog, this is just how things are. Bob is God. He has a long-suffering assistant, Mr B, who tries to stabilise things but with precious little success. The Eck is Bob's pet, an equally long-suffering penguin-like creature and the last of his kind. The Eck is suffering particularly at the moment because God's mother has lost him in a poker game and the winner wants to eat him. And if this wasn't enough of a problem, Bob is in love with Lucy, a trainee zookeeper and voluptuous beauty. So the weather is pretty bad.

This all makes for a funny, surreal, beautifully-observed book about love, lust, religion and mortality. It made me laugh out loud at least once in every chapter and it's clever too - full of comment on organised religion and the enormity of an eternity spent dead after such a short life in world full of beauty and wonder. It made me want to grab onto life, regardless of what comes next. The clever and creative reader will absolutely love it.

However, and I hate to say it, but I also found There Is No Dog just a tad disappointing. The plot is thin and the narrative is repetitive - there are only so many freak weather incidents and teenage boy tantrums that you really want to read about in one book. And I didn't engage with any of the characters - perhaps a little with the Eck - so I didn't really care what happened to any of them, even poor Lucy, the hapless target of Bob's latest crush.

There's a wonderful idea here, fantastic writing and some wonderful tableaux. But the whole thing didn't quite hang together for me.

My thanks to the good people at Puffin for sending the book. We also have a review of Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff.

There Is No Dog is such an idiosyncratic book that it's difficult to suggest what to read next. How about Killing God by Kevin Brooks, which has an equally idiosyncratic look at religion and teenagers. You might also appreciate Misdirected by Ali Berman.

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