Millet’s novels wear their darkness lightly. She is just so funny, her observations are so sharp, and her details so absurd, that one can almost forget the fundamental seriousness of her themes. Her stories often consider our solipsism and short-sightedness, the deviousness of politicians and the destruction of our planet. But please don’t be daunted by this grim list. Ms. Millet does not sermonize. Even at its gloomiest, her fiction is a pleasure ... It is a good thing Ms. Millet is so prolific, as her amusing portraits of human error seem terribly attuned to this disconcerting moment ... This book’s timeliness is almost eerie ... Part allegory, part adventure story, this fast-paced book manages to find the humor in an apocalypse. The chuckles are frequent but subtle ... This is not an optimistic book, but it is not without hope. Ms. Millet sees some potential in the clear-eyed urgency of young people, who are right to question the self-serving pragmatism of their elders. She also finds something meaningful in the impulse to make things, and the role art can play in capturing and clarifying the splendor and drama of this world. With this slim yet potent book, she shows it is even possible to coax pleasure and beauty from the uncomfortable work of highlighting unfortunate truths.
A Children’s Bible is most successful when read as a parable ... But if it’s a parable, it’s deadpan-funny, told in the first person by Eve, a youngish adolescent, in an economical, spot-on snarky voice ... this is very much a novel for our times. The Greta Thunberg-type anger and disdain the children have for the adults is rooted in pressing concern about climate change and the catastrophe that will arrive unless grown-ups act with grown-up urgency about the degradation of the environment ... In A Children’s Bible, Lydia Millet has given us a compellingly written, compact, slyly funny novel that warns of the catastrophic events that may very well overwhelm us. Unless.
... visionary ... Eerie biblical illusions—to crucifixions; old lives left behind; angels, saviors, and tormentors; and plagues and resurrections—couple with stark, realistic examples of how human beings behave when they’re pushed past the familiar. That its young cast remains so centered, even as waters rise and systems collapse around them, is part of what makes this atypical cli-fi novel so riveting.
... stunning ... a dizzying novel, as Millet keeps us off balance from beginning to end ... Millet is a brilliant stylist...Her writing in A Children’s Bible is as strong as it’s ever been ... What Millet is offering is a moral novel for the generation that grew up with climate change as an inevitability, and it’s no surprise that the author—a longtime environmentalist who works at the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson—writes with a palpable anger that morphs into outright rage ... A Children’s Bible is unapologetically apocalyptic, and it arrives at a particularly fraught time. Readers will find much that they have come, in the past few months, to recognize: hoarding, price gouging, the tragedy of the commons playing out over and over again. Literature never exists in a vacuum, and it’s difficult, if not impossible, to consider Millet’s novel apart from the crisis that the world is facing ... a beautiful, brutal novel that calls all of us to account for abandoning our stewardship of the earth, but it is also a tender, sensitive look at the generations doomed to deal with the broken planet we will leave behind.
For a while the novel sustains a deceptively timeless, children’s-treasury vibe ... The setting—a massive summer house, with multiple families vacationing in it—calls to mind that of Susan Minot’s novel Monkeys turned to account as metaphor ... There’s a birth in a barn, a plague, a Moses, a Cain and an Abel, even a crucifixion. But part of the novel’s genius is that these allusions never really lead anywhere ... The allusions aren’t symbols or clues; they’re just faint echoes, like puzzle pieces too few to fit together ... With brilliant restraint, Millet conceives her own low-key 'bible' ... It’s a tale in which whoever or whatever comes after us might recognize, however imperfectly, a certain continuity: an exotic but still decodable shred of evidence from the lost world that is the world we are living in right now.
The obvious metaphor here is that the burden of climate change rests on the shoulders of the young. But A Children’s Bible takes the allegory one step further. Perhaps the more interesting component here is that, similarly to the way that the parents absolve themselves of all responsibility, the children of Millet’s world renounce their parents ... Millet...draw[s] gutting parallels between the ways we soften the harshness of the world for children—through games, in stories—and the mental aerobics required to disguise our obliteration of the planet ... We, as readers, exist as audiences and participants. We are implicated. Perhaps the most powerful tenet of climate fiction is this kind of invitation, the realization that we are in this story, too.
Remarkably, these less than subtle nods to scripture – there’s more than I’ve mentioned here – are never distracting or annoying. This is partly because it makes sense to draw a link between the apocalyptic tendencies of the Bible with the impending climate catastrophe, especially when you consider the emphasis the Testaments, Old and New, place on family, on generational shift (all that begetting), on the environment (check out Exodus and Deuteronomy), and the possibility for redemption and renewal. But it’s also partly because A Children’s Bible happens to be a very funny and moving novel. Evie is a delightful character who can be vicious and acerbic, but also deadpan ... At the same time, Evie’s love for her younger brother Jack, including her attempts to underplay the shit-show that is the climate catastrophe, is not only poignant but also reflects the difficult conversations I’ve been having with my children ... The final pages of A Children’s Bible are a sobering reminder of the environmental tragedy we will all face if we don’t act now (assuming it’s not already too late). But they’re also tempered with a modicum of hope, a belief based on faith alone, that this current generation, inspired by the determination, the anger, the activism of extraordinary teenagers ill somehow redeem and forgive the sins of their fathers and mothers.
... wildly funny, deeply scary and unnervingly familiar, a dystopian tale that feels like it was written for right now ... The setup allows for delicious satire, but Millet steers the novel in a different direction; satire gives way to fable and allegory as the real reason for the kids’ disgust gradually emerges ... Sassy, meditative, loving yet unsentimental, cautiously, almost unwillingly sexual, Eve keeps the novel real as the ingenious scriptural parallels play out, framing questions about the relationship between science, faith and storytelling, and asking us to ponder how we will realign with nature when the safety net of the familiar frays and the prospect of an orderly future fades ... Millet is hugely ambitious and asks a lot of her novel, but not of her reader. Her touch is light and sure, even when her aim is to terrify. The allegorical elements of A Children’s Bible are sometimes brutal, but more often playful. Every echo of the Scriptures reminds us of the force of the original and the beauty of making something new out of something old. If there can be hope in a dystopian novel, it lies in that artful recycling.
... the supremely talented Lydia Millet once again shows her ability to turn on a dime, to create a situation that is laugh-out-loud funny and --- in a split second --- shift it into something that is dark and deadly serious ... That turn happens countless times throughout the book. As a result, thanks to Millet’s whip-smart writing, you may never look at your summer vacation house the same way again ... punctuated by scenes of dark violence and apocalyptic horror, but also by moments of great clarity and wonder.
...[an] increasingly horrifying climate-change fable ... As bewitching, unflinching, wry, and profoundly attuned to the state of the planet as ever, supremely gifted Millet tells a commanding and wrenching tale of cataclysmic change and what it will take to survive.
This somber novel by Millet...is a Lord of the Flies–style tale with a climate-fiction twist ... Millet’s allegorical messages are simple ... A bleak and righteously angry tale determined to challenge our rationalizations about climate change.
...a lean, ironic allegory of climate change and biblical comeuppance ... With the young teenage narrator, Evie, Millet perfectly captures the blend of indifference and scorn with which the teenagers view their boozy parents, emblematic of humanity’s dithering in the face of environmental catastrophe ... [A] lurid section, in which they are besieged by armed raiders searching for food, is shaky, and allusions to biblical tales such as Noah’s Ark and the Ten Commandments feel facile, but the novel regains its footing once parents and children reunite, with the children calling the shots. Millet’s look at intergenerational strife falls short of her best work.