Jonathan Unleashed | Meg Rosoff

Oh this books just sounds amazing – thanks to Kernel Kate Dawes’ review I may have to borrow the book back for a read myself – I love dogs, I love author, Meg Rosoff (HOW I LIVE NOW), and I love frenetic immature guys haha. JONATHAN UNLEASHED is Rosoff’s first adult book slowly edging her way out of the YA genre. JONATHAN UNLEASHED is out now from the fine folks at Allen and Unwin Book Publishers, it will be available in most book outlets or you can purchase it from HERE. Enjoy Kate’s review………all the best………JK.


Jonathan’s life is going to the dogs in JONATHAN UNLEASHED, the first adult novel from young adult writer Meg Rosoff (HOW I LIVE NOW). Funny, smart and relatable JONATHAN UNLEASHED is a must read for anyone who’s ever felt their life was not quite under control.

Moving to New York after college Jonathan thought he had everything under control. He had managed to find a cheap, well located apartment which is possibly owned by a felon due to return from prison any day. He’s landed a job in a start up marketing agency working alongside childhood best friend Max, but within a few months the shine starts to wear off. Constantly worried his absent landlord will arrive on his doorstep and hating his job Jonathan is convinced to take in his brother’s two dogs, Dante and Sissy, which just gives Jonathan more to worry about.


Jonathan Unleashed Book Cover image


The dogs give Jonathan a whole new set of problems. He’s concerned about Dante, a Border Collie, being bored with his life and along with his partner in crime, a Spaniel named Sissy, getting up to trouble while he’s at work. Seeking out a vet for the dogs Jonathan tries to describe their listlessness at their lack of meaning in their lives but she only thinks he’s projecting his issues onto the dogs. With Jonathan’s girlfriend who’s been living out of state since they finished college about to join him will she be able to pull him together or will her obvious dislike of the dogs drive a wedge between them. Just when it seems like life is about to push Jonathan over the edge the mysterious and androgynous Greely arrives in the office. Charged with whipping things in to shape Greely quickly takes Jonathan’s life in hand suggesting he bring the dogs along to work. Can Greely and the dogs save Jonathan from himself?

With Rosoff best know for her young adult novels including HOW I LIVE NOW and PICTURE ME GONE, JONATHAN UNLEASHED is a bit of a departure for her. While JONATHAN UNLEASHED is an adult novel it’s a bit of an in between stage with our protagonist not long out of college and working his first job. A lot of the time Jonathan still feels quite young. He’s not quite shed the childish expectation than once he’d finished college and moved to New York a put together, fulfilling adult life would just happen. I’m sure we can all relate to that one. For each decision he makes his reasoning lacks complexity. Even when his friends try to tell him he’s making a terrible mistake all that matters for Jonathan is that it would be the ‘grown up’ move to make next. Rosoff’s style is well suited to her main characters’ immature and increasingly frenetic mindset. Her free flowing prose becomes punchier and sentences shorter as Jonathan’s life spirals increasingly out of control.

Despite the general theme of young adults in the city battling an existential crisis being nothing new there is something refreshing and different about Rosoff’s interpretation of it. Her characters are rounded, flawed and loveable. Jonathan in particular comes across even when he’s most off the rails as loveable and real. Even the dogs have real character. While they don’t speak and we don’t see their thoughts the way Jonathan interprets their head tilts or eyebrow raises credits them with full personalities and plans.


meg rosoff with dogs image
Meg Rosoff author image: Photo Credit: Andrew Crowley


There’s something wonderfully inclusive about the characterisation in JONATHAN UNLEASHED with Rosoff embracing a whole variety of characters of different nationalities, gender identities and species. Two of the most influential characters are Greely, a coworker of indeterminate gender and Dante, a dog. Greely’s gender, though it is mentioned whenever there is a new meeting between characters, ceases to matter as soon as Jonathan starts to benefit from the wisdom Greely bestows on him. Jonathan eventually refers to Greely as his spirit guide as Greely’s advice and guidance seems so perceptive and influential to him. Dante is a slightly different story. Not everyone sees the intelligent scheming Jonathan credits him with but he is often the driving force of the story pulling Jonathan along, sometimes literally in the direction he needs to go to to get his life together. Something dog people will recognise.

Instantly relatable to anyone who’s ever felt like adulthood isn’t really what they signed up for Rosoff’s move into adult fiction is not one to miss and hopefully a sign of more to come in the not too distant future.


4 Pops


Having always loved stories one of Kernel Kate’s most frequent childhood memories was her parents telling her in the early hours that it was way too late to still be reading and to go to sleep, but she would always sneak in the end of the chapter. Her love of stories led to a career in movies as well as remaining an avid reader of everything from novels to academic papers and junk mail. She makes a perfect reading machine fit to the Salty Cob.

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the publisher or distributor – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.