by Wendy Mass
First sentence: “Okay, first off, the quotes that start each chapter are from real people who know a lot of really cool things.”
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Joss is the seventh son of the Supreme Overlord of the Universe. He lives in the realms, and even though he’s a billion years old by our count, he’s really only just entering teenage-hood by theirs. His six older brothers are established in their jobs in the Realms: managing afterlife, creating planets, observing said planets. Joss, well, he delivers pies. (They’re really good pies, though.)
He doesn’t think much about his existence, going about his daily life with his friend Kal, until one day when someone from some planet (it turns out to be Earth) spies the Realms through their telescope. This is, to put it mildly, a Big Taboo. Usually, the planet in question gets destroyed. But, since this is Earth and Kal’s parents were there as Onworld observers, Earth isn’t destroyed, it’s just taken out of time. And, for some reason unknown to Joss, it’s his job to put it back to rights.
To complicate matters, an Earth girl named Annika has showed up in Kal’s place (I forgot to mention that he summarily disappears along with his parents, who were on Earth), and is tasked with the job of helping Joss recreate the Earth. From scratch.
Like many of Wendy Mass’s other books, this one was thoroughly enjoyable. I especially liked — and I’m not sure it was intentional or not — the blending of science and “religion”. As Joss worked through the scientific application of the Earth’s creation — and I don’t doubt that Mass’s science is spot on; she’s known for her research — from the big bang through evolution, it occurred to me (granted this is an adult, and a religious, perspective) that you could see God in what Joss was doing. Sure, Mass called it the Supreme Overlord of the Universe and cloaked it in the mask of kids speculative fiction. But, why couldn’t God have used science to create the world?
Sorry. I got off track.
At any rate, I really enjoyed Joss’s learning of evolutionary science. And physics and chemistry as well. And I thought Mass was clever to frame it as a fantastical adventure. It made the science less… boring. There was a sweet ending as well.
In short: a very fun book.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)