YA Novel Reveals the Human in Us All
Book Review on The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni. Published by Putnam.
In this Young Adult novel, Peter Bognanni reminds the reader that no matter how strange one’s life is, no matter what extremist views they hold or what kind of futuristic ideals they strive for, every human being alive experiences moments of self discovery, a first crush, the power of music and unyielding love.
The House of Tomorrow introduces the reader to Sebastian Prendergast, a sheltered teenage boy who lives in a glass-walled geodesic dome with his fanatic grandmother on the outskirts of a small town in Iowa. With his parents dead, being homeschooled his whole life, and no siblings or friends, all Sebastian knows is what his grandmother has taught him; proper English and the teachings of philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller. Sebastian’s grandmother looks up to Fuller as a sort of godly figure and belives all his teachings are the key to the future. By following in Fuller’s footsteps, Sebastian is going to save the world. At least that’s what his grandmother’s plan is until she has a stroke and Sebastian meets Jared, a punk rock kid from town.
Pace (*slight spoiler*)
As a writer, you can create convenience and that is exactly what Bognanni did with his timeline. The next event was always ready and waiting to happen, with very little “down time” in the story. Sometimes the characters would make plans so the reader would now what was coming, other times surprising things just occurred that kept pushing the story forward. One specific instance of this was the big event at the end of the novel when the boys’ band played in the talent show. Before their last song was even over, the next event intervened and caused the boys to leave the stage before the scene could run its full course. One part of me wished I could have seen the uninterrupted aftermath of their concert but I also appreciate the fact that Bognanni kept the story moving forward, avoiding the possibly stereotypical, drawn-out “encore.”
Humor & Contrasting Characters
Bognanni successfully pulls humor from something very simple, the contrast between Sebastian and Jared. Listening to the audiobook, I literally laughed out loud at times! Sebastian’s innocent, proper, sheltered personality clashes with Jared’s punk rock, f* the world attitude that it literally shocks you. The reader becomes familiar with Sebastian and his formal, yet bizarre, way of life first so when Jared comes into the picture, his foul language and risk-taking attitude are a slap across the face. Their personalities are in a constant tug-of-war game, adding genuine humor to the novel.
The House of Tomorrow is centered, like Sebastian’s life, on the teachings of Buckminster Fuller, an American architect, author, designer, inventor and futurist. Fuller, who died in 1983 at the age of 87, never physical appears in the novel but is always present. “Bucky” directs Sebastian’s thoughts like God directs the thoughts of a child who grew up in a Christian home. Fuller’s large presence in the novel encouraged me to look into his life and from the little I’ve read, everything that is mentioned about him in the book is based on truth, including the term her popularized “Spaceship Earth.” Adding that kind of thorough research and seamlessly blending it into the story is very enticing. It adds a layer of interest that nothing fictional can.
Where did this story come from? I love asking that question after reading a piece of fiction. I think its safe to say that Buckminster Fuller and his teachings inspired Bognanni to begin this story. I would be truly be truly shocked to find out Fuller appeared after the story had begun.
How I found this book: Browsing a book store. Enticing cover. After I finished the book, I found out that Peter Bognanni lives in Minnesota and works at a college down the street from the University I attended. Small world!
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Posted on April 29, 2014, in Book Review and tagged book review, books, Buckminster Fuller, future, humor writing, inspiration, pacing, peter bognanni, philosophy, research writing, spaceship earth, the house of tomorrow, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.