01. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Teen Books

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith, read by Courtney, on 03/07/2014

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. History will show that the world actually ends with 6-foot-tall carnivorous praying mantises that displace humanity from the top of the food chain. Austin Szerba is interested in the ways in which events, however small, coalesce into what we later call history. Through a fascinating intersection of circumstance and chance, Austin is in the prime position to present a detailed history of the end of the world.
Ealing, IA is your average dying Midwestern small town. The factory that once kept the town afloat shut down years ago. The local mall is nearly vacant. There’s really not a lot for teenaged boys to do. Austin and his best friend, Robby, hang out (skateboard, smoke) in the area behind the mall in the spot they’ve named “the Grasshopper Jungle”. Up until this point, the most challenging thing that Austin’s ever had to deal with is the possibility that he might just be in love with Robby, who came out of the closet in middle school. But Austin really loves his girlfriend, Shann, too. The three of them are best friends, but no matter what the situation, hanging out with them invariably leaves Austin both horny and confused.
One day, Robby and Austin are beaten up in the Grasshopper Jungle by a quartet of bullies. This is the beginning of a chain of events that put Robby and Austin in a prime position to witness the beginning of the end. It just takes them awhile to put all the pieces together and to understand their own role in them.
I’ve been struggling to figure out how to even describe this book. The plot is unusual, to say the least. On one level, it’s a darkly humorous apocalyptic tale. On another level, it’s story about teenagers figuring out who they are and how they fit into this world. On yet another, it’s about all the connections, seen and unseen, that turn seemingly isolated incidents into a greater understanding. Grasshopper Jungle is hilarious and heartfelt, apocalyptic and profane, realistic and completely outlandish. The writing is reminiscent of earlier Kurt Vonnegut works, which is a major bonus point for me. I can say with certainty that I’ve never read a book quite like this one. It’s honestly the kind of book you’ll just have to read and experience to see what I mean. I loved it.

Comments closed.