Though heavily disguised with all sorts of gimmickry, this is a poignant tale of growing up, and accepting the world for what it is.
After the death of his grandfather, the will leads 17 year-old Irish-American Aaron O’Faolin on a treasure hunt, but, of course, what he is really searching for is connection with his family and friends, and to fall in love.
Told with a mixture of fairytale whimsy and gonzo humor, Aaron narrates his history, from his failed suicide attempt at 10 when his mother left, through abandoning his prescribed medication and running away to San Francisco, and finally his return home to Antello, Nevada.
Overlaid on top of this is the augmented reality implant FUN®, in which Aaron’s virtual buddy Homie™ keeps popping up with unsolicited advice, and Aaron scores points by giving “yays” to such entertainingly and pointedly over the top brands as the Hearthealth™ lifestyle of Kashi® Heart to Heart ™ Honey Toasted Oat cereal. To add to all the other ideas crammed into this novel, there is also an outbreak of Avis Mortem, in which a large proportion of the bird population is dying.
The different threads just about coalesce into a whole as Aaron follows the path of an Irish fairytale given to him by Katie, a 23 year old Irish-Basque teacher with whom he falls in love. And, of course, his quest leads him to the realization that reality is more fun than FUN®.
The sympathetically drawn, fully realized extensive cast of characters includes Aaron’s family, his best friend Angelo ‘Oso’ Sandoval, the Mormon Latham family, and his love interest, Irish-Basque Katie.
McGinty’s debut novel has an appealing voice and attractive characters, and readers who have enjoyed Andrew Smith’s off kilter fiction will find a home here.
Reviewed from an ARC.