Would people truly be happy if they could return to the Garden of Eden before the Fall? A girl lives blissfully within such a world, convinced she and everything else was created by Dot, her beloved deity.
Wren and her friends frolic exactly as they wish in their state of perfect innocence. They think nothing of going nude, and they enjoy themselves splashing in the beautiful lagoon and “hooking up” whenever and with whomever they wish. They live according to whim, plucking and eating the abundant fruit that grows everywhere. They follow the Books of Dot and strive to be “dotly.” They don’t even know unpleasant words, adding “pre” to a pleasant word instead: if someone is nervous, they call it “precalm.” When a boy from an outside world that shouldn’t exist breaks into theirs, Wren and her friend Blaze, an unbeliever, try to hide him. Meanwhile, Gil, a fanatic who claims to talk with Dot, begins a campaign against undotliness. As Wren learns more, she reluctantly begins to doubt her faith. Badger’s religious satire is a gutsy one. Nominally a near-future science-fiction story, its examination of the effects of religion, both positive and negative, dominates the narrative. If the book’s resolution seems a bit forced, the exploration of what constitutes bliss—and what does not—makes everything worth it.
Most intriguing and provocative. (Science fiction. 14-18)