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Grasshopper Jungleby Andrew Smith
I've never seen so much weird and awesome packed into one YA book, or so many giant praying mantisesseses [sic]. Add a ribaldly wonderful narrator plus a story that holds its sucker punches until the perfect moment, and you've got that rare thing: a boy-friendly YA title that avoids any and all pigeonholing.
Absolutely incredible! This book is nonstop campy action and a hilariously honest view into the mind of a sex-crazed, queer teen boy. Truly the best YA book of the year and the finest work from one of today's best YA authors.
This book pretty much has everything: the sweet confusion of first love; ruminations on the meaning of history, both cultural and personal; friendship; scientific and sexual explorations; and, oh yeah, giant bugs devouring humanity and bringing about the end of the world! Told through the funny and raunchy perspective of Austin Szerba, a 16-year-old at the epicenter of the apocalypse, Grasshopper Jungle is unlike anything you've read before, careening from the past to the present and back again in an action-packed ride that has as much tenderness and thoughtfulness as it does thrills.
Synopses & Reviews
In this truly shocking, grotesquely original coming-of-age, end-of-the-world novel, sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the legacy of his family's history in Poland and immigration to the United States while narrating the story of how he and his best friend brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, human-sized (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, 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.
"Assuming the role of a historian (a wildly obscene historian), 16-year-old Austin Szerba chronicles the end of the world as it begins in his small Iowa town. Austin is in love with two people — his girlfriend, Shann, and his best friend Robby; neither of them is okay with it but, as Austin frequently repeats, 'I was so confused.' This confusion worsens when a series of missteps results in the propagation of six-foot tall, superstrong, mantislike Unstoppable Soldiers that portend a new world order on Earth. Sex is everywhere in this novel (only some of it involving humans), but Smith (Winger) describes it in purposefully clinical and utterly unromantic terms, making connections between the Unstoppable Soldiers — who 'wanted only to fuck and eat' — and human beings, whose preoccupations aren't, perhaps, so different. Filled with gonzo black humor, Smith's outrageous tale makes serious points about scientific research done in the name of patriotism and profit, the intersections between the personal and the global, the weight of history on the present, and the often out-of-control sexuality of 16-year-old boys. Ages 14 up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Original, weird, sexy, thought-provoking and guaranteed to stir controversy. One hell of a book.” Michael Grant, New York Times bestselling author of the Gone series
“Andrew Smith is the bravest storyteller I know. Grasshopper Jungle is the most intelligent and gripping book I've read in over a decade. I didn't move for two days until I had it finished. Trust me. Pick it up right now. It's a masterpiece.” A. S. King, Printz Honor-winning author of Ask the Passengers and Please Ignore Vera Dietz
"A meanderingly funny, weirdly compelling and thoroughly brilliant chronicle of 'the end of the world, and shit like that.'...In a cannily disjointed, Vonnegut-esque narrative, the budding historian weaves his account of the giant-insect apocalypse in and around his personal family history and his own odyssey through the hormonal stew that is adolescence." Kirkus, starred review
In the small town of Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend Robby have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army. An army of horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises that only want to do two things.
This is the truth. This is history.
It's the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it.
You know what I mean.
Funny, intense, complex, and brave, Grasshopper Jungle brilliantly weaves together everything from testicle-dissolving genetically modified corn to the struggles of recession-era, small-town America in this groundbreaking coming-of-age stunner.
About the Author
Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several young adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger and The Marbury Lens. 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 is his seventh novel. He lives in Southern California. You can learn more at authorandrewsmith.com and follow him on Twitter: @marburyjack.
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