A teen realizes there’s more to life than augmented reality.
In Aaron O’Faolain’s near-future world, birds are dying en masse, American currency is being phased out in favor of digital-only funds, and everyone wants to have FUN(R). Aaron ditches his boarding school and uses his tuition money to pursue a life of adventure, complete with a microchip and lenses for the Fully Ubiquitous Neuralnet. Once he starts having FUN(R), it mediates all of his experiences in ways that are both (predictably) fun and (equally predictably) intrusive. Aaron’s realization that it’s tiresome to be asked to rate everything from consumer products to fellow humans coincides with his trip home to reckon with his grandfather’s suicide. Having inherited everything, he decides to seek the treasure that might be buried on the property so he can pay back his father and sister. He also pursues fairly typical teen activities such as romance, imbibing questionable substances, scrapping with his responsible older sister, and helping an elderly neighbor. Aaron’s account is littered with trademarked names, and each chapter ends with “yay!” and “boo!” rating buttons—just a few of the amusing details it feels that McGinty couldn’t bear to cut; the result is a book that starts strong but has trouble maintaining its pitch. Aaron is white, but his world is convincingly diverse.
McGinty’s debut is a bit of a shaggy dog story: frequently meandering and patience-trying but bighearted and generous, too. (Adventure. 14-16)