Readers may remember I reviewed of Annabelle & Aiden‘s The Story of Life not long ago on this blog. I’ve been meaning to get around to more of their science and skepticism themed stories, and as it happens the perfect excuse presented itself over the weekend. The publishers of the Annabelle & Aiden series briefly offered the ebook version of their latest story, This World Was Made For Me, for free on Amazon, and while I sadly was not able to finish this in time for my readers to take advantage of the same deal, it at least gave me the opportunity to share a bit of a preview with you.
As with previous titles in the series, the book starts with the titular characters out and about, enjoying the world around them. They remark at how the world seems to have been made especially for them. Overhearing their conversation, their friend Tom Tardigrade replies that they have it all backwards, as things were not always as they are now.
He tells them the story of life on Earth, with particular emphasis on extinctions and their aftermaths. He remarks that countless, innumerable species have doubtless had similar feelings to Annabelle & Aiden in some form or another, only for their world to radically change. Those that couldn’t adapt were left behind, and in the aftermath, new species came to find in turn that the world they now found themselves in seemed perfectly designed for them, instead.
This of course leads back to the main characters’ (and by extension, our) hubris in assuming the world naturally aligns with our needs. I’ll directly quote a few lines from the end of the book that I think succinctly drive home the moral of the story:
“You’re thinking like a puddle / Who sees the hole he’s in / And excitedly declares / How its shape was made for him!”
“It’s our bodies that were shaped / By our changing land and sea” / “Now I get it!” Aiden said / “This world is what made me!”
Our world is what shaped us / It’s allowed us to visit / It does not belong to us / Rather, we belong to it.
Max Rambaldi’s art has a soft, approachable quality to it, which helps soften the potentially heavy topics the book aims to introduce its young target audience to. That’s not to say it actively attempts a cover-up of said topics in any way; the front cover (which is also loosely recreated later within the book) presents a very evocative deconstruction of the human tendency to attribute excessive exceptionalism to themselves. I can’t imagine how one could more effectively deconstruct the idea that “This World Was Made For ME!” then to see the characters proclaim this phrase atop a pile of countless extinct organisms from throughout the ages, while the possible struggles that lie waiting in our own future loom in the background.
This World Was Made For Me is certainly a book for our times. As we face an uncertain future fraught with ecological collapses, deadly viruses, and the onset of the most deleterious effects of climate change, inflated egos of both individuals and societies has the potential to exacerbate these problems beyond what we can tolerate. It doesn’t take much digging to see that the history of our planet records untold numbers of changes in the power structures of the day, whether societal or ecological.
Just as the successors of Earth’s many catastrophes tend to be small and adaptable, so too will the humble and the open-minded be best equipped to face the challenges that life throws at them. This World Was Made For Me is probably my favorite Annabelle & Aiden book so far, and it definitely earns my Dino Dad Stomp of Approval.