Life isn't easy for God School's latest graduate...
Bernie is a young god who fixes broken universes for a living. Unfortunately, the universe he's supposed to fix is in the middle of a civil war caused by Ashok, a murderous wizard determined to control the lucrative pepper trade.
Bernie's boss urges him to solve the problem by destroying Ashok and his people, but Bernie wants no part of such a massacre. Struggling to find another solution, Bernie tries to get Ashok to give up his plans for world domination. But, as Bernie's attempts at peaceful solutions continue to fail, his boss comes to believe the best solution is to destroy all the people and start over again.
Bernie can't let that happen. He has no choice but to destroy Ashok and his followers. Although he hates the idea of destroying life, Bernie prepares to do what is necessary, only to discover the evil wizard's powers are far more than superstitious nonsense. The young god is drawn into an epic battle that pits the power of the gods against the forces of magic. And the lives of every man,woman, and child on the planet hang in the balance.
The Universe Builders are stand-alone books and can be read in any order. The first book, Bernie and the Putty, won 16 awards for excellence including the Grand Prize from Writer's Digest, Book of the Year (1st Place) from IAN, Gold Medals from Reader's Favorite, San Francisco Book Festival, eLit Awards, and Independent Author Network, along with 10 other awards.
Plot: At times the story bogs down in details that do little to advance the plot or characters, but overall the story is interesting and well constructed. The author does a good job of throwing believable obstacles at the protagonist.
Prose: This novel is well written, though the prose feels somewhat basic when when compared to that of other books in the genre. Some of the character interactions are awkward, but descriptions and actions are handled well.
Originality: The Universe Builders is a master class in world-building. The plot centers on building—and fixing—worlds, which is an original and entertaining concept that readers will enjoy.
Character Development: Some awkward interactions aside, the characters in this novel are believable, well-developed, and likeable. For all his power, Bernie is wonderfully unequipped to handle the problems facing him.
Date Submitted: May 20, 2017
The Universe Builders: Bernie and the Wizards is a young adult fantasy that tells of a youthful god who fixes universes for a living. His latest task is to repair Protox, a planet fraught with civil war and, as it turns out, which is under the influence of an evil wizard whose effort to spark chaos proves far more effective than Bernie's efforts to save his project.
If Bernie doesn't succeed, Protox will be destroyed - but more importantly, his failure will hold especially dangerous implications for his own world of gods and broken universe manipulations.
This story adds to others in the 'Universe Builders' series about Bernie, but stands well on its own for newcomers who may be unfamiliar with the series. True, it holds a wide cast of characters which could become confusing to newcomers; but it also holds the ability to paint a logical portrait of its setting and purpose with a short prologue (which will delight prior fans needing a memory jog) and then move on from there with yet another Bernie problem-solving mission.
Christian readers might chafe at the notion of a universe manipulated by gods, much less a young, inexperienced god - but the purpose of this fantasy doesn't reside in religious implications, but in the real dilemma of a young person in charge of seeing that order is maintained in his part of the universe; and what happens when events spiral out of control on his watch.
An excellent survey of these responsibilities lies in early dialogue: "I can see you’re a bit squeamish, Bernie. If you’re going to fix things around here, you need to toughen up.” “Yes, Sir. I’ve been told that before.” “You have to think of this like growing a garden. Sometimes there are weeds, and we have to get rid of them, otherwise there’ll be no room for the flowers.”
Do demonstrations of intelligence and emotions equate to having a soul? Bernie's Photox assignment and problem becomes much more complicated as he grapples with bigger questions, little lives, and great powers.
Budding gods with good faith confront worlds both under their control and outside of their experience in The Universe Builders: Bernie and the Wizards, which is packed with insights about special abilities and their real worth, leading directly into previously uncharted territory as it considers the evolution of friendships and the real powers of wizards, gods, and those with fewer special abilities.
Young adults will find it an engrossing read filled with a satisfying blend of action, philosophical reflection, and unexpected insights on relationships which excels in surprises and compelling new beginnings from disasterous situations.