Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy/ I don't really know how to classify this
Year Published: 2014
Page Count: 388
Also by Andrew Smith: Winger
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith is the weirdest book that I have ever read.
Austin and Robby are best friends. Robby is in love with Austin and Austin might be in love with him too, or he might be in love with his girlfriend Shann, he isn't sure. Robby and Austin accidentally bring the end of the world to Iowa, when they release a science experiment gone wrong from the past that turns people into giant praying mantises.
I told you it was weird.
Smith's writing is so natural and sarcastic. Even though the plot of this book is far out, his narrator and the supporting characters are so real and the writing just flows as if you really are in the head of Austin, a seventeen year old Polish boy who thinks about sex way too often and is confused about who he loves. I loved Austin and Robby, especially Robby, and for me, they are what carried the novel forward and kept me reading more so than the outrageous plot, even though that was quite entertaining as well.
Just like Winger this novel had great over-reaching themes that came together beautifully in the end. I loved the way that Smith weaved history into this novel: world history, Austin's family's history, Austin's history, and the science experiment's history. This novel also makes the reader ponder the process of recording history, why we record history, and what gets left out of the records. The poem Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen also makes a few appearances in this novel, which is one the most powerful poems I have ever read, and I really loved what the references added to the novel.
Austin's confusion about his feelings for Robby and Shann was handled really well. Austin recognizes the love and attraction he has for both his best friend and his girlfriend, and never denies that those things are there. I loved his friendship with Robby, and I really loved how Austin handled his confusion in the end of the novel. Smith's novels seem to be full of wisdom and poignant one liners that portray his themes and represent his characters so well. I loved this line from Robby, "I don't care if you're queer. Queer is just a word. Like orange. I know who you are. There's no one word for that" (pg 120).
I love how this book is put together, the eye catching cover is accompanied by lime green pages. There are no chapters in this book, but it is divided into small sections with hilarious tittles, and praying mantis arms are outlined on some of the pages. If you enjoyed Smith's other writings, check this one out. If you haven't read Smith I would recommend starting with Winger first, unless this sounds like your thing, then start here. But no matter where you start, read something by Andrew Smith!