‘Grasshopper Jungle’ by Andrew Smith is about Austin Szerba, a tenth grade boy in the small town of Ealing, Iowa. The biggest issue he has in life is his equally strong love for both his best friend Robby and girlfriend Shann. Austin is confused about his sexuality… But that doesn’t matter, because a virus is set loose in Ealing and it turns people into hungry, sex-crazed, giant pray mantises. Austin and his friends uncover a 50 year old conspiracy right under everyone’s noses. Nobody knew anything about it… Believe me, sexuality is the least of his problems.
The book is written in Austin’s perspective and is in the first person. This is a future version of Austin, documenting his life. Due to this writing style, we also get insight into the lives of smaller characters in the town. I will admit that at the start of the book, Austin’s narrative felt a little impersonal. However, having continued reading, I think Andrew Smith’s unique writing style needed some getting used to.
Austin was my favourite character in the book, because he managed to show me a different way in which I could look out on the world. He showed me how, if you connected the dots between people and events, you can finally see the bigger picture. The book had two main themes. Firstly, that nobody should feel pressured into labelling themselves now or ever. Secondly, that historical documentation is an integral part of human survival and development.
I can’t possibly pick out my favourite part of the book for me, but I do have a least favourite. I just thought that the ending of the book (not including the epilogue) was weak and anti-climactic. I felt as if many events prior to that point in the story were rendered irrelevant by the ending of the book. That said, I would definitely recommend this book to someone else. This is genuinely one of the most brutally honest, but crazily kooky books I have ever read. There is a lot of sexual themes and scenes in the book, so I wouldn’t give this to someone under the age of fourteen. But if they want to read it, they probably will. The kind of person who would enjoy this book is someone who usually reads sci-fi or contemporary, but is now beginning to branch out into other genres. This book would probably be great for everyone though. ‘Grasshopper Jungle’ is a beautifully mad jumble of genres that shouldn’t work, but it does. Never has a book so bizarre made such sense to me. It is the pineapple on pizza of books.
4.5/5 stars is awarded to ‘Grasshopper Jungle’ by Andrew Smith
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