Title: Grasshopper Jungle
Author: Andrew Smith
Release Date: Available
Okay so – holy shit.
I know that’s not particularly descriptive or enlightening and doesn’t really make for an incredibly helpful review, but bear with me. Having just finished Grasshopper Jungle the only words that come to mind are holy shit, because I honestly don’t know how else to begin putting that fantastically weird and wonderful experience into words.
Grasshopper Jungle takes place in the small town of Ealing, Iowa — a town that’s poor and broken and fading, first abandoned by industry, then slowly by its people. The story’s guide is a young Polish boy named Austin, self-appointed historian of his own life and narrator of the lives and roads that crossed and came together in Ealing the week the world ended. It opens with Austin and his best friend Robby, killing time as they often do, skating at Ealing’s deteriorating mall complex in the back alleys and concrete stretches that they know as Grasshopper Jungle. It’s a place without rules or codes — a place where Robby and Austin are soon punched and punished because Robby is gay and Austin is his best friend. And it’s because of a punch to the face and the bloody nose Robby receives as a result that sets off the end of the world.
It’s a story of testicle-dissolving unstoppable corn and unstoppable soldiers, a story laced with lemur masks and lawn flamingos and photoluminescent mold — it’s about the world’s end at the hands of six-foot-tall praying mantises who want to eat and breed and really nothing else.
But despite all of the magnificent absurdities, it’s primarily an exploration of the confusing world of love and sexuality, a coming-of-age story set during an unknowable and unstoppable apocalypse. It’s unexpected and moving and surprising and, considering the plot revolves around an army of violent and near-invincible insects, incredibly beautiful.
This story is something new and so very different from its YA fellows, filled with fascinatingly complex and rich characters and compelling, easy prose. It’s a novel that I’m currently recommending to anyone I come across, because it’s so worth the read — a phenomenal story that I don’t want anyone to miss out on. Andrew Smith has taken a ridiculous setting and turned it into the backdrop for an almost indescribably captivating and thought-provoking piece.
Simply put, this book is wonderful.
And that’s the story
You know what I mean.
Review by Kayla
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