Summary from Goodreads:
Sebastian Prendergast lives in a geodesic dome with his eccentric grandmother, who homeschooled him in the teachings of futurist philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller. But when his grandmother has a stroke, Sebastian is forced to leave the dome and make his own way in town.
Jared Whitcomb is a chain-smoking sixteen-year-old heart-transplant recipient who befriends Sebastian, and begins to teach him about all the things he has been missing, including grape soda, girls, and Sid Vicious. They form a punk band called The Rash, and it's clear that the upcoming Methodist Church talent show has never seen the likes of them. Wholly original, The House of Tomorrow is the story of a young man's self-discovery, a dying woman's last wish, and a band of misfits trying desperately to be heard.
I’ve read a pretty decent amount of teenage-centric realistic fiction in my time. But I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like The House of Tomorrow which is interestingly enough published by an adult, rather than YA, imprint. In any case, Peter Bognanni definitely has a grasp on what it’s like to be a teenager, and I can see this book being a hit with both its intended audience and YA readers themselves. (Honestly, I don’t even know why this isn’t a YA novel.)
Though this book does have a very authentic portrayal of teen life, it’s about by quirky, eccentric characters who might not be so typical in the everyday. Bognanni’s protagonist, Sebastian, grew up in a glass dome with his new agey grandmother, being prepared for his “path”, which is apparently to save humanity. Sebastian’s newfound best friend is Jared, an angsty punk rocker who really hates the world after a successful heart transplant and family breakup. Together, Sebastian and Jared are two oddballs who plan on rocking their small Iowa town with a “genuine” punk rock performance.
Not going to lie, the premise for The House of Tomorrow sounds really, really strange. And it is, sure. But because Bognanni has managed to really capture the voice and tone of a 16-year-old boy, I thought this book worked really well. Sebastian is really uncertain of himself—what he wants, who he is, his past, his family. And that type of narrative is relatable to any person, I think, even if the speaker is an under-socialized homeschool kid with a whacky grandma and pretentious vocabulary. I found that Bognanni was able to tap into the universalness of certain teenage issues, so that Sebastian isn’t just a quirky character. For me, that was very impressive.
And I did have some issues with the book, but nothing I can honestly say were a big deal. Sometimes I thought the author’s writing was a bit too rough and too pretentious, though always well-done. Sometimes the dialogue was hard to follow. Sometimes Sebastian’s thoughts didn’t line up. So no, The House of Tomorrow wasn’t a perfect book, but I think it still accomplished its purpose.
For fans of YA, lovers of quirky characters, or readers who enjoy a good coming-of-age tale, The House of Tomorrow is an excellent place to look. Peter Bognanni’s genuine portrayal of teenagers really sold this book for me, and that made the weirder aspects of this book seem much more real and plausible. Overall, this was a pretty good read.