Thank you NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Synopsis: FUN®–the latest in augmented reality–is fun but but it’s also frustrating, glitchy and dangerously addictive. Just when everyone else is getting on, seventeen-year-old Aaron O’Faolain wants off.
But first, he has to complete his Application for Termination, and in order to do that he has to deal with his History–not to mention the present, including his grandfather’s suicide and a series of clues that may (or may not) lead to buried treasure. As he attempts to to unravel the mystery, Aaron is sidetracked again…and again. Shadowed by his virtual “best friend” Homie, Aaron struggles with love, loss, dog bites, werewolf pills, community theater, wild horses, wildfires, and the fact (deep breath) that actual reality can sometimes surprise you.
Despite it’s intriguing premise of virtual reality insidiously taking over the world, combined with a coming-of-age story, ultimately I was disappointed by The End of Fun.
There are two big problems here. The first is the world-building. You’re just thrown in with no real explanation of what’s going on. I was able to surmise that the story takes place in the not too distant future, but there isn’t any real information given about what led up to the creation of this rather sinister virtual reality. Adding to the confusion is FUN® itself. By the end of the book I still wasn’t sure of of what exactly it was, and it’s never explained who is behind it and what their endgame is. The second problem is the main character Aaron. He’s supposed to be seventeen, but he acts more like a thirteen-year-old. He’s inclined to act on his impulses rather than thinking things through, and he’s so self-involved that it borders on narcissism. There are some decent passages that go back in time through Aaron’s memories and reflect on his childhood and his relationship with his grandfather but they’re not enough to deflect from the other deficiencies and inconsistencies that are so prevalent in the rest of the book.
The End of Fun tries to be too many things: a coming-of-age story, a cautionary tale of reality vs virtual reality, a mystery, an exploration of dysfunctional families and even some environmentalism involving the extinction of birds due to the technology that’s been created. The latter is brought up but then goes absolutely nowhere. All of these themes stand completely separate from one another and never join into one cohesive thread, and it made it extremely difficult to finish the book. There might be some teens that will enjoy the virtual reality aspect of this, but honestly there are other books out there such as Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline that are more well written.