Cryptofauna
Patrick Canning
SciFi/Dark Humor

Working as a janitor at an insane asylum in rural Idaho has Jim in the dumps. One night, his attempted suicide is rudely interrupted by one of the residents, and he’s recruited to play a game called Cryptofauna. The bizarre contest of worldwide mischief and meddling might actually help the blue custodian discover a reason to life, if he can survive the deadly trials that await…

Uncaged Review: Jim is a young man working at St. Militrude’s, an insane asylum/nursing home. After thinking “too hard” about life, he decides to end it all with some pills washed down with a can of root beer (because a resident had recently thrown all the cans of Coca Cola off the roof). He is interrupted by Oz, who is one of the residents of St. Mili’s and also an “Operator” in a global game called Cryptofauna, and taken deep down into the basement. Jim is given a bag of turmeric and a dog and is then thrown into this game. Having been given very minimal instructions, Jim must survive and work toward completing three tasks, all while gathering a group of people to help him (his “Combo”). But he has a Rival to contend with, a nasty and not-so-intelligent man named Boyd. Jim must figure out how to make it through the game and stop Boyd’s evil shenanigans in the process.

It is a rare thing indeed for a book to make me laugh as much as this one did. I found myself smiling, chuckling, and outright belly laughing on many occasions, and I have to say that this book was a supreme delight to read. It’s quite bizarre — think of a mix between Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and possibly Doctor Who (except that there is no time travel, and all the events take place on Earth).
The author has brilliantly written this book to allow readers to vividly visualize the wonderfully bizarre and crazy events. We sometimes are in the thick of things with Jim and company, and sometimes we get fascinating history lessons about some of the main characters. Each section has the same witty and hilarious style and pace that makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens next.
There are so many fascinating things about this book. Everything is bright and mentally engaging. One of my favorite parts was the underground Abbey in Boston, which boasted a labyrinth of libraries and other mentally stimulating rooms. Who wouldn’t want to spend months soaking up as much knowledge as they could? (Even if you had to be surrounded by leprous monks who didn’t sleep and who only ate carrots and drank dandelion wine?)
The cast of characters was truly fun. Each had a unique personality, and I felt like I came to love them as family just as Jim did.
Although the details and exact purpose of the game Cryptofauna may still be vague in Jim’s mind and my mind, this book is a true treat to read, certainly one of the funniest books I have read in a long time. I would recommend this book to anyone who is not easily offended and who loves quirky and bizarre but very interesting situations. *While it thrilled me to my core to read this book, there are some disturbing things and adult situations (think orgies, random cruel murders, and excessive drug use) so I wouldn’t recommend the book for anyone who is too young for that kind of content.

I would eagerly read another book written by Patrick Canning, and I am likely going to purchase a paperback of this book for my library (I think this is one I will want to read again and again). I would also LOVE to see this made into a movie. Reviewed by Emily

5 Stars