Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Literary Fiction, GLBT, Publication.Date February 11th 2014 Pages: 388 Published By: Dutton Juvenile Author Andrew Smith Grasshopper Jungle on Goodreads My review copy: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the storyof how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.
To make matters worse, Austin's hormones are totally oblivious; they don't care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He's stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann. Ultimately, it's up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.
Andrzej, like many Polish boys, hoped that one day his country, which had been treated like a sausage between the dog jaws of selfish neighboring empires, would be able to stand on its own.
I wondered if I would ever not be horny, or confused about my horniness, or confused about why I got horny at stuff I wasn't supposed to get horny at.
As history is my judge, probably not.
History chews up sexually uncertain boys, and spits us out as recycled, generic greeting cards for lonely old men.
Stupid people should never read books.
Powerful, extraordinary, insightful and out-of-this-world weird (in a good way!), Andrew Smith's Grasshopper Jungle is a book like no other out there. I honestly don't even know where to begin describing it. I kid you not, it's a literary masterpiece. I can't remember last time I had this much fun reading a book!
It's the-end-of the-world story like you've never seen it before. It all starts in the small Iowa town and it centres around three ordinary (?) teenagers: the perpetually horny and sexually confused Austin Szerba, his gay best friend, Rob, and his girlfriend, Shann (whom Austin desperately wants to have sex with). There's an underground bunker filled to the ceiling with the most disturbing shit you could ever imagine (including testicles in a jar and two-headed infants), fascinating bits and pieces of history (world's history, as well as personal one), a golden retriever who poops like an elephant, giant insects with only two things on their mind and a whole lot of intense, gore mess to enjoy.
The narrative is nothing short of brilliant. It's the end of the world as seen through the eyes of the most awkward, confused and ever-horny teenager you could imagine. And it's hilarious! Some aspects of it are completely mind-blowing and insane, but then you also get those moments of breathtaking beauty and clarity - and that happens when we get to explore Austin's psyche and his emotional inner universe. And those moments, those little sneak-peaks at his mind and soul, they are priceless, real and unforgettable. They are universal and relevant. And they make Szerba a very relatable protagonist.
While Grasshopper Jungle is utterly brilliant, hilarious, refreshing and eye-opening, and can most certainly be enjoyed by teens, I do believe that it takes a certain level of maturity to fully appreciate it. Younger teens will have fun with this book for sure, older teens will probably understand more and be able to relate to certain themes better, but I think it'll take an adult reader to get 100% out of this book.
Austin Szerba is a phenomenal character. He is horny. Very horny. Every-other-thought-is-about-sex kind of horny. He's trying to figure out his life and his sexuality. He's confused, lost, overconfident and not nearly confident enough. His head is filled with random thoughts. He's obsessed with history and keeps tons of journals in his closet. He's weird, awkward. He smokes too much and often gets beaten up. In other words, he's the essence of what it means (and feels like) to be a teenager. Andrew Smith did a marvellous job developing and polishing his character. To me, he felt almost painfully real. I'd often find myself nodding or laughing out loud at some of his thoughts, and I could never get enough of his honest, bizarre personality. I loved him. He's probably the most fascinating, beautifully fleshed out character I've ever come across in YA fiction (or any fiction for that matter).
To say that Grasshopper Jungle is like a strong punch to the guts would be a major understatement. This book is a complete knock-out. It's pure INSANITY! Smith's ability to channel the teenage mind and evoke the emotional tornado of the teenage heart is unmatched. His writing - emotionally affecting, smart and sharp. To call the plotline original, would be inaccurate, too. The plotline is.. well, a total mind-fuck (I'm sorry, there's no other way to call it!). I loved all of Smith's books, but Grasshopper Jungle is definitely my favorite one yet. I'm honestly scared to think where this phenomenal author will take us next. And I seriously can't wait to find out!
About the author
Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger (Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year”) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist).
He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle, coming February 11, 2014, is his seventh novel. He lives in Southern California.
Thanks to the wonderful Andrew Smith and the awesome folks at Penguin Teen, one lucky winner will get a finished copy of GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE and an wicked-cool UNSTOPPABLE CORN T-SHIRT!
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