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
Now even though the book ends perfectly and there is no indication that there should be a second book, or even a second book in the works, I'm going to need a second book. I want to read more of Cryptofauna and this amazing team that I've gotten to know over the course of reading.
Jim is a janitor who's had enough with life and is ready to end it all. Somehow one of the patients, Oz, knows this and enters just when Jim needs him the most. He offers Jim something more in the way of Cryptofauna, and Jim, as well as we the reader, are given very little information as to what the game Cryptofauna really is, but as Oz puts it, you need to experience it for yourself.
We don't really get to the game until about 70% in, but we follow Jim into his training, where he learns everything he ever needs and perhaps a lot that he doesn't. He's training in an underground facility that is home for monks who have agreed to help Operators in training. We meet some fantastical people that Jim chooses for his Combo and some he doesn't, and they're all great people. The entire training experience, from the way you get down into the cave, to the monks and the people Jim meets is so much fun, it's so in depth, that at this point, you are having too much fun to realize he hasn't even started playing the game yet.
Cryptofauna is fantastically strange, it's so funny and I found myself laughing out loud multiple times. But it's also deep and poignant and Canning's attention to detail is superb. You really are immersed in Jim's world. There are so many wondrous oddities such as the elixir Jim needs to bathe in to study, Oz's mode of transportation, the drink Marshmallow Bear, even Mars the dog is wonderful because Canning gives us a look into his mind. I adore this book and I am not above resorting to hounding the author for more.
I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with Patrick Canning’s Cryptofauna. When I was queried for a review, I almost passed and I’m glad I did not. Down on his luck Jim is something of an Arthur Dent kind of character from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy… amid his life falling apart all around him, he is whisked away on an incredible (and mostly unbelievable) adventure. The humor is similar as well and Canning is able to write some incredibly potent hooks into the story (the first line, for one) as well as some concepts that are normally so antithetical that they feel absurd—but in context, they are the right kind of absurd that makes the story work. Cons? I’m not a fan of the cover and there are some minor format glitches with the justification, but nothing to get in the way of the story. The book reads like a pan-galactic garble blaster: Da Vinci Code smashed up with The Game but wrapped around Hitchhiker’s Guide. If dark humor and a touch of absurdity is your thing, check out Cryptofauna and if you like it, also check out another book series that it reads like, Scott Burtness’s Monsters in the Midwest series. I got a free copy in exchange for a review.
*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author and BookSirens. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
It is sometimes said that ‘Gods play games with the fates of men’ (Sir Terry Pratchett). In this case, the game is Cryptofauna, the rules are obscure and the stakes are unclear. Let the game begin…
Jim is a janitor, living a reasonably humdrum life and failing to find any meaning or joy in it (Trigger warning: suicide attempt). Luckily, Oz is on hand to pluck him from despair and tenderly send him into danger… nothing to give your life meaning like having to fight for it!
Except maybe finding those worth fighting with and for. Jim slowly assembles a team of fellow ‘life strugglers’ and together they attempt to play Cryptofauna, or defeat evil, or survive… any or all they can manage really.
Cryptofauna‘s zany and chaotic style – shot through with political uncorrectness, running jokes and dark humour – will be familiar and welcome to fans of Robert Rankin and Tom Holt (perhaps especially Wish You Were Here). The plot takes odd turns and hinges on unlikely coincidences and dei ex machina, but then sometimes that’s the way the dice fall.
There is definitely potential for further adventures from Jim and his Combo and, as the ‘ordinary man’ persevered and modestly sidled his way into my heart, I hope to see many more in the future!
Obelisk into the void. A crackers castaway in a lifeboat. And to top it all off, Jim’s entire outfit was now a sock that would have a real “you think that’s bad, guess what I had to do” story for the washing machine crowd. Even though Jim was generally a cool customer regardless of the situation, this seemed like a big ask. Previously, the strangest thing that’d ever happened to him was finding a second prize in his box of Cheerios.
– Patrick Canning, Cryptofauna
Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog