I got an email about this book about a month back and I was a little hesitant at first to accept a review copy because I was not sure I would like a book about imperfect gods creating worlds and life, especially ones so young, amidst a rivalry with one god harming another god's creations, but then I remembered how much I love Percy Jackson and decided that it was just a fun young adult story about young gods learning to create universes and that was all it needed to be. It didn't have to be something that tried to make my God into an imperfect being. Foreshadowing: It was just a fun and creative story, as I had suspected, and I loved it. I guess that's not foreshadowing if I just say it straight out like that. So, since you know I loved it already I will probably point out a couple of the things that I didn't like as well as going into some details about what I did like.
It started off a little slow for me and there was a lot of information to absorb so I couldn't read it as quickly as I have other books, but even before the pace picked up, I found myself completely invested in the characters. I was almost surprised how quickly I cared about Bernie considering the fact that I found it almost odd that there were so many “human” things about these gods. I think it was because I decided to see them more as humans with great powers than as gods in the way that I see and know God. I really started to like and care about Bernie almost immediately so the author did a great job of creating that reader to character connection.
As the story moved along and conflicts began to rise, I was rooting for Bernie and cursing Billy. I was fascinated by the science involved and the creativity of the story as a whole. I have always loved science and seen God in it so reading the way the author tied science into Bernie's creation powers was really interesting and intriguing. I found myself enjoying the descriptions of how Bernie did things almost as much as I was enjoying the characters themselves. The author got me mentally invested (the science loving part of my brain) and emotionally invested. I was angry when I needed to be angry, excited when I needed to be excited, and super frustrated at Billy and the circumstances Bernie's world seemed to be putting him in. I will say there were two things that bothered me the entire time...I really just wanted these gods to install security cameras so Billy's reign of terror would just end. Of course, if that were to happen, there would be no story. I found it odd that a world of beings so intelligent didn't have the proper security measures in place. I suppose they are all supposed to be fairly benign and good to one another but because the characters were very human like and had flaws and because things like divorce and work place feuds existed, I had a hard time justifying the lack of locks on the doors and lack of security. I got over it eventually, because I needed to in order to keep enjoying the story, but it is probably going to be the thing that bothered me most in this book. Luckily it is a minor enough thing and had the issue been fixed, then Bernie's life would have been much simpler and not quite the story it turned out to be.
The only other thing I can think of that bothered me aside from that was the fact that I never really knew how old Bernie was. Because he had graduated and was starting work I assumed he was in his twenties and had finished a college of sorts (there was mention of majors, etc.) but then some of the things he said and did seemed to paint a picture of a much younger boy. I don't know if I missed his age being said or if it is meant to be up to the reader's interpretation (or if it even matters since they don't die of old age so their lives play out differently anyway), but I did not know his age so I decided to see him as a fifteen or sixteen year old kid. It was a little odd to place someone so young in a career like that but I just couldn't see someone in their twenties acting the way he did at times either. The same could be said for Billy. His anger and thirst for revenge felt all too immature for someone in their twenties. I suppose you could argue that boys can be immature for quite a while (not to insult any boys who might read this) so I guess I will never really know how old Bernie is and I suppose, in the end, it doesn't matter too much. Those were honestly the only two things about the story that bothered me enough to stick around in my mind after I was done reading. I enjoyed the characters, their world, the worlds they created, the story, and the friendships between Bernie, Suzie, Lenny, and little Sissy (of course). I loved the people on the world Bernie created and loved how they too reminded me of us. I love the way the book ends and I found myself really glad that I'd taken the time to read it. I have had books I was not sure about before that were a struggle to get though and this one was NOT one of those. It was a complete joy to read. Not to mention the fact that the last image he leaves you with is pretty awesome so you'll just have to go and read it for yourself to see what happens.
I would definitely recommend this book. Steve LeBel is a good writer and his story was well worth the time I took to read it. It think it is a great read for teens and adults alike. You can find it on amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Universe-Builders-Bernie-Putty/dp/0991055403/ref=s...