Real World Dystopia
Locus Amœnus is a thoroughly clever Young Adult novel loosely based on Shakespeare's Hamlet. When Hamlet is told by an old friend Horatio that 9/11 was covered up, with help from his new stepfather, he becomes depressed and wants to set things straight.
First off, I loved it! Full of snappy wit and a British sense of humor. Locus Amœnus will appeal to young adult readers because of its young protagonist vs. the World theme, but this time, dragons and magic are not necessary to paint a real world dystopia. Obesity, poor education, and corrupt government all contribute to Hamlet's world.
In terms of style, I am reminded of Pseudonymous Bosch (minus the asterisks containing page-long tangents). Alexander is much more poetic that Bosch, and not as crazy, but they both have the same fast and cunning sort of humor. John Green comes to mind as well. When Alexander describes a wellness committee meeting, with the morbidly obese school nutritionist, I was reminded of when Green describes a cancer support group, with Patrick, the group leader who insists on singing songs. Both writers use parody well. John Green is slightly mellower, though.
Unfortunately, some of Alexander's awesome is lost on other reviewers, who take the parodic but tragic ending as real. An article at the end reports
[Hamlet's murder/suicide, but it is written by “R.E Peters” which references Hamlet in the past saying journalists “Report on reporters. They are repeaters not reporters.” So, clearly, the article was faked by Hamlet. After thinking that Hamlet was dead, it was a relief to realize he was still alive. ]
This reminds me of the ending of Pseudonymous Bosch's Bad Magic where we a given a hint that the narrator is in fact one of the main characters.