Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of 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.
GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE is an absolutely brilliant book. Andrew Smith is a genius the way he weaves the stories of Austin's ancestors, his conflicting feelings about Shann and Robby, and the total destruction of the human race into one amazing book.
I started listening to the audio of GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE and wasn't finished by the time I pulled into my driveway so I had to finish by reading the ebook that night. That is the kind of story this is - one you can't put down until you reach the end. Even after I was finished with the book I couldn't stop thinking about it. GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE has definitely left me with a book hangover. So much so, I'm having trouble finding any satisfaction in what I'm reading now.
Here are some of the things I loved about GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE:
1) Austin and Robby's friendship is wonderful. Robby is patient even though Austin is confused about his feelings. Even though Austin can't decide what he wants, Robby remains committed to the friendship.
2) Equally enjoying is the relationship between Austin and Shann.
3) This is such a small thing, but I really like how Shann's stepfather, Johnny McKeon, is a nice guy. It is nice for a change to have a girlfriend's "father" approve of the boyfriend. It's not only that, but other things like how he never cusses is a quirky characteristic.
4) The weaving, rambling way that Andrew Smith tells the story. There is a quote from Shann that describes this perfectly. Shann is talking to Austin when she says, "I love how you tell stories. I love how, whenever you tell me a story, you go backwards and forwards and tell me everything else that could possibly be happening in every direction, like an explosion. Like a flower blooming." A friend and I were talking about the writing style and decided that we liked this first person omniscient narration, but Andrew Smith takes it even further by NOT restricting the events relayed in the narrative to those that could reasonably be known. I mean, really, Austin knows EVERYTHING!!! I love it.
GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE comes out tomorrow, February 11th. Take it from me, download it or buy it and read it ASAP!