Title: Grasshopper Jungle
Author: Andrew Smith
Published: February 11th 2014 by Dutton Juvenile
Purchase: Book Depository | Amazon
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.
The three things I can say about this book with surety are:
1. This book was fucking bizarre.
2. This is a story about everything.
3. It was addictive.
Our main character, Austin Szerba is a very confused, perpetually horny teenager. Normal teenage stuff. He also catapults the beginning of the end of the world by means of 6 feet tall, carnivorous mantis like creatures. Not so normal. I loved Austin. I liked his inner turmoil, his compulsive need to record history and his candid and hilarious voice. The writing style was so distinct and enjoyable, the crude humour and references to shit, sex and urinals were oddly refreshing.
Austin was quite confused about his sexuality. He had feelings for his best friend, Robby, and his girlfriend, Shann. I loved Robby, he was laidback and cool and I enjoyed his interactions with Austin. While Robby had a strong presence, Shann faded into the background. Austin view of Shann came off shallow while his descriptions of Robby held so much substance.
The eradication of mankind comes about in a unique and terrifying way, death by hungry, horny bugs. It’s ugly and absurd and completely entertaining. Weaved into the chaos of this story are the completely unrelated actions of the strangers in Austin’s life and his backstory of his family. It’s fascinating and somehow they all connect. It’s sort of brilliant to witness the revelation of all these connections.
As for my dislikes, one had to be the length of the book. The story dragged at times and in the last quarter of the book the repetitions got irritating. I also wasn’t a fan of the ending, it left me unsatisfied and I needed more closure.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, a bit of an understatement since I did read it one sitting. Looking back on Grasshopper Jungle, the shit that happened was dark and dreary but there’s such an absurd mood and WTF hilarity that it keeps the book light and fun and so weird. Read it, I’ll bet you haven’t come across anything of this sort.