Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Review: "Grasshopper Jungle" by Andrew Smith

The end of the world started in Ealing, Iowa and this is how it happened.  Austin Szerba is our sixteen year old historian, ready to tell the story of how it happened.  You see, Austin is at the center of it along with his best friend Robby and his girlfriend Shann.  They were the first to figure out where the six foot tall Praying Mantis-like man-eating creatures came from, how they were developed in the first place, and even how they might be stopped.  But can they actually stop the end of the world?

And this entire story is set against Austin trying to figure out who he is:  he is examining his personal history to see where he comes from, and he is examining his feelings to figure out who he is attracted to and what he ultimately wants.  He sees that history is necessary to remember and that all things and all people come together to create the current state of existence.  He also recognizes a connection between events happening simultaneously across town or across the world - they can all have an effect on your personal state of existence.  But he is still confused, and is trying to figure it out on his own without hurting his best friend and his girlfriend.  I think we've all been there, more or less.

The writing in this book is incredibly different than in Winger (which I adored).  It is almost like it is written by two different Andrew Smiths - except that they share two very important elements in my mind:  great understated humor and unpredictability.  It took me a couple chapters to get used to the short, abrupt phrasing and the repetition...  but I think that is what makes Austin a little more authentic.  He's not holding back - it is almost stream of consciousness for him (except that it still makes complete and total sense).  He is very unsure about himself, so he finds comfort in recalling and repeating different parts of his known history.  It grounds him when things start to feel out of control.

This isn't going to be a book for everyone.  It is gruesome in spots, it has some language and scenes that some will object to, and some people just may not accept this birth of a dystopian world.  But for those looking for something very different, this is a wild ride that in my humble opinion is worth taking.  You know what I mean.

*****
Grasshopper Jungle
by Andrew Smith
Dutton, 2014
388 pages
Source:  ARC gifted from a friend, finished copy won in contest from the publisher!
*****


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1 comment:

ChristasBooks said...

I've heard the writing style is very unique in this book but I love books that are a little bit out there. Great review!

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