Still working the boundaries between YA and adult fantasy, Shetterly offers this long-range follow-up—hardly a sequel—to Dogland (1997).
In Gainesville, Fla., “you,” ninth grader and aspiring artist Christopher Nix, flee a bunch of redneck thugs, and find that you can walk on water—although you swiftly rationalize the experience. You meet and fall for beautiful black girl CC, but she inexplicably vanishes overnight. You then learn that you have a benefactor, the rich and powerful Jay Dumont; thereafter, you continue your schooling at the prestigious Academy. Soon you discover that you indeed posses miraculous powers, including the ability to raise the dead. Dumont avers that you must marry, or at least sleep with, his daughter Heller, although you find you don’t want her. Dumont is in fact the highest of the immortal elohim, who serve the god El, and you are his heir. But you learn that your predecessor was murdered; that your Academy friend Elverado was killed for showing too much interest in Heller; and that elohim frequently use their powers for evil purposes. You wonder if you want to serve a god who delights in pain, cruelty and death. Then you unearth an ancient document, written by Judas, recounting the story of Jesus, another elohim—decidedly not the version told in the Bible. You make a momentous decision.
Other than the intriguing Judas chapters, the story’s narrated in a bizarre and unconvincing second person, present tense (so who is the actual narrator?) and treads largely familiar ground; not so odd, then, that the most controversial section is by far the most persuasive.