Teenager Antsy Bonano gets into an amazing amount of trouble while spending a week on a luxurious Caribbean cruise ship in this agreeable companion to The Schwa Was Here (2004).
Old Man Crawley, a filthy-rich irascible codger with a soft spot for his blind, 16-year-old granddaughter, Lexie, is about to turn 80. To celebrate, he invites—commands, really—Antsy and his family to join him and Lexie for a week aboard the incredibly fabulous cruise ship Plethora of the Deep. After a precise setup that neatly lays out the well-detailed characters and their situations, Antsy meets the attractive and intriguing Tilde, who claims she’s a stowaway and smuggler of illegal immigrants. Reluctantly, bighearted Antsy, who for all his smarts can’t seem to stop himself from getting involved in people’s problems, begins helping her. The comedic, larger-than-life climax showcases the interaction among social media, the legitimate press and storytelling (aka lying), giving Antsy the opportunity to prove that he has both guts and heart. The story, which has a lot going on and is full of sharp quips and amusing observations, is beautifully constructed and contains a meticulously foreshadowed yet completely surprising plot twist and, later, an unexpected reveal. For all its dazzle, though, it sometimes seems more interested in its own cleverness than in pulling readers along, and they might find themselves full of admiration at its wit and wisdom, yet rather uninvolved.
Nevertheless, a highly enjoyable ride. (Fiction. 12-18)