cover image Jonathan Unleashed

Jonathan Unleashed

Meg Rosoff. Viking, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-101-98090-3

Rosoff’s buoyant, witty, but less than satisfying seventh novel follows Jonathan Trefoil’s fumbling attempts at adulthood in Manhattan. When Jonathan’s brother asks him to look after his border collie, Dante, and spaniel, Sissy, the pets give Jonathan purpose, and Rosoff (How I Live Now) is memorably funny on the foibles of dog owners. The book veers into wicked satire when Jonathan starts at Comrade, an advertising agency where everyone is “young, attractive, fashionable, underpaid, exploited, and full of existential rage.” Jonathan’s longtime girlfriend, Julie Cormorant, meanwhile, works at Bridal-360 magazine. Rosoff casts them as a plausible odd couple: he’s a nervy art school grad, and she’s a sensible salesperson. But after their engagement, incited by the offer of a free, live-streamed wedding to help promote Bridal-360, it’s clear to everyone—including Jonathan’s best friend, parents, coworkers, and subconscious—that the wedding is a mistake. As he nurses crushes on other people and ignores repeated warnings not to marry Julie, Jonathan becomes an ineffectual, unconvincing protagonist. The plot’s resolution depends on heavy-handed coincidences and canine antics. It’s a disappointing conclusion to a frequently thoughtful comedy by an author whose accolades include the Printz Award and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. (July)