Please, pick your jaw up off the floor. That's not pretty. *wink*
Not the End of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean is the fictionalization of Noah and the Flood, and the winner of the Whitbread Children's Book Award .Though I'd not heard of that particular award before, probably because I'm not British. I drew it from the library shelf ... well ... well, because it has a pretty bird on the cover. *Blush* I know, I know don't judge a book - but after reading the flap, it did sound pretty interesting, and besides, I wanted to figure out what was so great that it got an award. Sheesh. In addition to this, the author has written several other re-tellings of myths, fables, and older stories, including: The Bronze Cauldron, Greek Gods and Goddesses, The Canterbury Tales, The Hero Gilgamesh, One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, and The Odyssey.
First, what I loved. Her writing. Beautiful imagery, brilliant dialogue, excellent character development, spot-on pacing. Wow - I learned so much about writing from this (children's?!) book. Yes - I do see why she won the award. I couldn't put it down, even when I was on vacation!
Second, what I didn't love. Her theology. Though I could tell she put some time into cultural and Biblical research, her fictionalization of adding a daughter to Noah, insinuating he was serenely aloof, and his God as well - it was rather infuriating. I was offended at the lack of reverence, even going so far as to suggest God didn't think of everything when he started the flood. It was too much for this princess of the King. I think I just love Him too much to stomach that much nose-thumbing at God. I kept waiting for the redemption of Him, but it never happened.
So why did I finish it?
Because - third, what I liked well enough. Her plot. I have a friend who's also a writer, and she says she can't read Biblical Fiction because she doesn't like reading a story she already knows the end to. (Which doesn't bode well for my novel.) Oh well. Because I DO! It's great, because each page, you're wondering, "Wow, I wonder how she's going to work in that character, or get to the climax that way." It's exciting for me, and McCaughrean pulls it off beautifully. So much so that I wondered if we would even find a rainbow and a "land-ho." [Don't worry - we do.]
Here are a few of my faves - maybe you'll like it enough to finish it too.
"Mother keeps me busy too. No shortage of jobs for any of us. The end of the world is a busy time if you mean to outlive it."
"The light of the hunt came into their eyes; half-disbelieving and yet excited by the thought of it. Ham's tongue poked out of the corner of his mouth in concentration. For months they had been preserving life. That's not a natural state of affairs for men. Once in a while they seem to need to kill things instead."
photo credit: yours truly
But Shem has decided on a course of action, and words bounce off Him like raindrops. He heaves me to my feet, twisting my arm and thrusting me toward the hatch. My legs are so unsteady, I can't make my feet coincide with the rungs of the ladder.
There is no demon, Shem. Unless it's you."
One of the reasons I read this book was to see if it would be a good one for my daughter. I'm going to have her pass.
Happy Reading, Friends. Tell me what you thought, and what you're reading, too!