I’ve been wanting to write my review for book 23, Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith, all week, but I didn’t have the dust jacket to take a good photo. I’ve been at Brad’s all week, and the cover has been at home and I just couldn’t wait any longer. So this photo will have to do…maybe I’ll update it, but it’s not really that important.
(Although I like the cover!)
Grasshopper Jungle is the story of 16 year old Austin Szerba, who is documenting the history of the end of the world.
Austin and his best friend, Robby Brees, spend their afternoons and weekends skateboarding in an alleyway they dubbed “grasshopper jungle” in the small town of Ealing, Iowa, where nothing exciting happens and everything basically sucks. One day, Austin and Robby are beaten up and their shoes are thrown on the roof of a secondhand store. When the boys go to retrieve it, they sneak into the shop and into the locked backroom, where many a weird thing is stored. It leads to a globe of phosphorescent mold being stolen by the same jerks who beat the kids up…and that mold holds a plague that will bring about the end of the world as we know it, creating 6-foot tall preying mantises out of anyone who comes in contact with the strain. As all of this is happening, Austin is dealing with the common problems of a 16 year old boy. He’s horny, he’s bored, and he’s in love with his best friend and his girlfriend, Shann Collins, adding sexually confused to his hormonal mix.
This was unlike anything I read. It’s sci-fi mixed with teenage drama, but in a very mature sense. Austin never sounds too big for his britches, an important thing for me in young adult novels. In fact, there’s a very repetitive nature to the way he speaks, and I like that. Just a reminder of what has been happening, as if he really is documenting the history of this devastation in notebooks.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone look for something different.
If you need anymore egging on, read this great review from Entertainment Weekly.