From There is No Dog:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Only it wasn't as simple as that. The preferred candidate for God withdrew at the last minute saying he wanted to spend more time with his family, though privately everyone suspected he was having second thoughts. You couldn't really blame him. Earth was badly positioned — miles off the beaten track in a lonely and somewhat run-down part of the universe. At a time of high employment, not many top-level candidates were willing to take on a tiny unproven planet, not to mention the whole creation rigmarole, which, when done properly, could be a real headache.
Ultimately, the position was filled by Bob, whose mother won it in a poker game. Bob, He of the Short Attention Span, created stuff for six days and then got bored. For a while, he got a kick out of Playing God—appearing to mortals and scaring the bejebus out of them by booming orders at them from the sky—but his stick-in-the-mud personal assistant Mr. B eventually put a stop to that.
These days, pretty much the only thing that can catch his attention on Earth is a pretty girl. His romances never have happy endings, but he—like a certain species that he created in his own image—never learns from his mistakes.
Poor old Mr. B, meanwhile, has spent millennia using what little power and influence he has to improve things on Earth. Occasionally, he's able to hold Bob's attention for long enough to get Him to take action, but usually, he's on his own with a never-ending pile of prayers, requests, and natural disasters to deal with. He's been carrying Bob for a long, long time, with no recognition and no reward, but things are about to change: Mr. B has requested a transfer.
If you're a Douglas Adams fan, you need to put this on your To Read list immediately. I mean, duh: the passage I quoted up there should have already made that completely obvious and abundantly clear. I'd say it would go over well with Pratchett fans as well.
It wasn't just the tone that reminded me of Douglas Adams. It was the warmth—it was how Meg Rosoff was able to poke fun at (and sometimes skewer) humankind (and our mythology), while also conveying a sense of never-ending affection, wonder, and empathy. There's a sense of hope, too, but it's a realist's sort of hope—one that takes the past into account—so while there are brief, perfect moments of beauty, everything is tempered with a cheerful sort of pessimism*.
Obviously, this book isn't going to work for everyone. Me? I loved it. I loved that it was both irreverent and reverent. I loved the love stories (all of them) and the vision of the universe; that for every out-of-touch, uncaring god, there was another being (god or otherwise) who displayed compassion and love; I loved that there were issues on every scale—universal, planetary, and household—and that, to the characters who actually cared, the household issues were just as important as the universal ones.
I'm not sure if I see it as a straight YA novel—like Hitchhiker's and Discworld, it's a crossover. I rather think that if it had been written by an author primarily known for writing for adults, it would have been published for that market. But that doesn't really matter. What matters is recommending it to the right people. Which I'm sure you will.
*Props to CC for the phrase 'cheerful pessimism'.
Book source: Review copy from the publisher.