Admit it. As an adult, you have read the Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson series. You casually acknowledge they are “pretty alright” but secretly you beguiled them and wished somebody, anybody, would write these stories for you; us adults. Josh Climbs the Tree of Life does just that with a sardonic twist on everything we love about children’s books but void of the constant moral maintenance and with a twist on the often stuffy and arrogant Godly transgression found within modern mythology based stories.
Author Lee Vranna presents readers with an incongruous cast of characters, bringing together a smorgasbord of polytheistic deities from essentially every culture and period throughout history and completely immersing them into the twenty-first century, complete with a Pantheon Gentlegods Club and Muse Bar and language that could possibly even make a sailor blush. Vranna brings the deities to life with pretentious attitudes, constant banter, and frangible flaws, all traits unbecoming of an almighty god.
“At least he’s not out dickin ’ every Phoenician slut he can lay his hands on, like my Zeus,” countered Hera.”
A common misnomer, Vranna uses the synonymous societal viewpoint that gen-Ys are lazy and lack motivation. Josh, a lazy pot-smoking teenager, turns the world upside-down when he’s tasked with the guarding the Secrets of the gods, resulting in his life being at stake from deities who’d rather see the human Hider dead, than knowing their secrets.
Page after page unfolds more characters, more “argumentative estrogen” and one of the most enthralling history lessons on mythological personas. However, the cumbersome cover might be this book’s greatest challenge, as while not visually unappealing, it does not do this story justice and would be better suited for a memoir.
Overall, Josh Climbs the Tree of Life was exactly the book I have been looking for to fill the void of knowing I am an adult that loves children’s literature. Vranna has great potential to spin this story into an expanded series capable of standing against other top sellers in this genre and a book that adults will love and not have to share its epic awesomeness with eight-year-old kids!