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Grasshopper Jungle: A History
Contributor(s): Smith, Andrew

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ISBN: 0142425001     ISBN-13: 9780142425008
Publisher: Speak
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Binding Type: Paperback - See All Available Formats & Editions
Published: February 2015

Annotation: Austin Szerba narrates the end of humanity as he and his best friend Robby accidentally unleash an army of giant, unstoppable bugs and uncover the secrets of a decades-old experiment gone terribly wrong.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Survival; Fiction.
Friendship; Fiction.
Gender identity; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: bl2015005138
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 10-12, Age 15-18
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 8.50" H x 5.75" W x 1.25" (0.75 lbs) 388 pages
Scholastic Reading Counts Info
Quiz #: Q63208
Reading Level: 6.3   Interest Level: Grades 9-12   Point Value: 23.0
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Fall)
Unfortunate coincidences involving sixteen-year-old Austin and his best friend Robby lead to the unleashing of gigantic, ravenous praying mantises related to a diabolical scientist's decades-old experiments. Austin's love for and attraction to both his girlfriend and to Robby is the powerful emotional backbone of this intricate, grimly comedic apocalypse story, in which Smith proves himself a daring and original wordsmith.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2013 November #1)

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. (Feb.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2014 February)

Gr 10 Up—It used to be that the only interesting events to occur in crumbling Ealing, Iowa happened between the pages of 16-year-old Austin Szerba's "history" journals. Austin's journals are elaborate and uncensored records about sex; his love for his girlfriend, Shann; his growing attraction for his best friend, Robby; his unique Polish ancestors; even Ealing's decrepit mini-mall where he and Robby hang out. Shann tells Austin, "I love how, whenever you tell a story, you go backwards and forwards and tell me everything else that could possibly be happening in every direction, like an explosion." And that's exactly how Austin narrates the end of the world when a twist of fate sparks the birth of mutant, people-eating praying mantises. Austin not only records the hilarious and bizarre tale of giant, copulating bugs but his own sexual confusion and his fear about hurting the people he loves. Award-winning author Smith has cleverly used a B movie science fiction plot to explore the intricacies of teenage sexuality, love, and friendship. Austin's desires might garner buzz and controversy among adults but not among the teenage boys who can identify with his internal struggles. This novel is proof that when an author creates solely for himself-as Smith notes in the acknowledgments section-the result is an original, honest, and extraordinary work that speaks directly to teens as it pushes the boundaries of young adult literature.—Kimberly Garnick Giarratano, Rockaway Township Public Library, NJ

[Page 114]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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