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Grasshopper Jungle Hardcover – February 11, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, February 2014: Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle defies easy description. To say that it’s a wild, over-the-top story of male adolescence, science gone wrong, the end of the world, and giant praying mantises sounds a little bit insane. And doesn’t begin to touch the warm and fuzzy bits (honesty, love, connection) that are a large part of what makes this book great. Narrator Austin Szerba is a unique historian of momentous things, including the nature of history itself, and his chronicle of family, how the end of the world began beside a dumpster in his small Iowa town, and what life is like when you’re sixteen and in love with two people, is something you won’t want to miss. --Seira Wilson

From Booklist

Simmering within Ealing, Iowa, is a deadly genetically engineered plague capable of unleashing unstoppable soldiers—six-foot-tall praying mantises with insatiable appetites for food and sex. No one knows it, of course, until Austin and his best friend Robby accidentally release it on the world. An ever-growing plague of giant, flesh-hungry insects is bad enough, but Austin is also up to his eyeballs in sexual confusion—is he in love with Robby or his girlfriend, Shann? Both of them make him horny, but most things do. In an admittedly futile attempt to capture the truth of his history, painfully honest Austin narrates the events of the apocalypse intermingled with a detailed account of the “connections that spiderweb through time and place,” leading from his great-great-great-grandfather Andrzej in Poland to Shann’s lucky discovery of an apocalypse-proof bunker in her new backyard. Smith (Winger, 2013) is up to his old tricks, delivering a gruesome sci-fi treat, a likable punk of a narrator, and a sucker punch ending that satisfyingly resolves everything and nothing in the same breath. Grades 9-12. --Sarah Hunter
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (February 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525426035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525426035
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrew Smith knew ever since his days as editor of his high school newspaper that he wanted to be a writer. After graduating college, he experimented with journalistic careers - writing for newspapers and radio stations - but found it wasn't the kind of writing he'd dreamed about doing.

Born with an impulse to travel, Smith, the son of an immigrant, bounced around the world and from job to job, working at various times in a metals mill, as a longshoreman unloading bananas from Central America and imported autos from Japan, in bars and liquor stores, in security, and as a musician, before settling down permanently in Southern California. Here, he got his first "real job," as a teacher in an alternative educational program for At-Risk teens, married, and moved to a rural mountain location. Throughout his life, Smith continued to write, but never considered seeking publication until challenged into it by lifelong friend, author Kelly Milner Halls.

In 2008, Smith published his first novel, Ghost Medicine, an ALA/YALSA "Best Books for Young Adults." This was followed in 2009 with In the Path of Falling Objects, also a BBYA recipient. The Marbury Lens is Smith's third novel, and will be followed in 2011 by Stick.

Smith prefers the seclusion of his rural setting, where he lives with his wife, 16-year-old son, 13-year-old daughter, two horses, three dogs, three cats, and one irritable lizard named Leo.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jenna Detrapani on February 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover
GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE by Andrew Smith is perhaps the most bizarre, alarming and uniquely-crafted book I have ever read. Equal parts disturbing and insightful, it will both disturb you and make you think.

A word of warning: This book is not for those who are easily put off by foul language, topics such as homosexuality, drugs, and other controversial society issues and descriptive depictions of sex and gore. If I were to give this to a young adult to read, that young adult would have to have a good head on their shoulders.

That being said, I have a feeling that GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE will be a big book on the market after it is released. People will talk about this one. It will be so polarizing on many levels. People will either love it or hate it because of the subject matter involved, the way that it is written (in the voice of a very “real” 16 year old boy who is very confused about his place in the world) as well as the outcome of the story.

When it comes to GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, I fall more on the “love it” side of things. I love that the author holds back absolutely nothing in his writing. I love the sporadic way that the story is told; very frequently the plot is stalled so that the main character can refocus his thoughts and look back in history. While this slows things down a bit, it is necessary 1) in order for the reader to keep their sanity and 2) well, you see, Austin has a responsibility. It’s the end of the world, and his history may be the last history of mankind. So while these horrible mutant grasshoppers begin their attack on earth, we learn about Austin’s ancestors and their involvement in the overall scheme of things. We also learn about his town, those who mock Austin and his best friend Robby, and how they have shaped all things that are going down.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Ken C. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Um..."

This is a book featuring two 15-year-old boys who are best friends, cigarette demons, and kids prone to saying "Uh..." and "Um..." a lot. Robby is gay. Austin is confused. Shann, the all-Iowan girl next door, is Austin's love interest. While all that is going on, the world is ending. But of course.

Andrew Smith's Apocalypse Now is set in Ealing, Iowa, where a now-deceased scientist's mad experiments gain new life when thugs steal and drop a ball of glowing liquid that feeds on spilled blood (Robby's) and creates 6-foot-tall killer praying mantises. But of course. Robby and Austin discover an underground bunker from the 70s that unlocks a lot of secrets about these "Unstoppable Soldiers," as the mantises are called.

"Um...."

The strength of the novel lies in its plot, really. Praying mantises make wonderful "here-we-go-a-preying" mantises, and stopping them is no small task. Readers will get caught up in the action as humans go mano a buggo against the green beasties. But the characterization and voice are stellar, too. First-person Austin really gets you inside the head of a confused kid who has strong feelings for both his best friend and his girlfriend.

The one weakness may bother some readers more, others less, and still others not at all. Lots of repetition here. Like with the "Uh's..." and the "Um's..." and the "Unstoppable This's" and "Unstoppable That's." Oh. And certain favored profanities. The book reads like an Adam Sandler movie in its way, luxuriating in bathroom talk, sex talk, and swearing. What can I say -- one reader's real life is another reader's gratuitous. Fine for high school and up, but middle school libraries will wisely, um, take a pass.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Addison @ Of Spectacles and Books on March 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Why I chose this book:
There was a lot of buzz surrounding this book before its release. Two boys falling in love during a grasshopper apocalypse? What author could pull off such a bizarre story and make it good? The questions rumbled across the internet as the release date loomed further. One of my goals this year was to try and read more LGBTQ lit, and this book piqued my curiosity as well as helped me achieve my goal.

Synopsis:
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.

3 Things You Need to Know:

1. You will love this book or hate it. No in-between. This book is so blatantly absurd, offensive, and sexual that it is a love it or hate it type of book. I rarely get offended in books and a few lines even made me raise my eyebrows. The “I don’t care” attitude that is heavy throughout the book is reflected in the male protagonist Austin. While Austin is a teenage boy, he is introspective to the point of selfishness and documents every minute of his life. You, as the reader, either love him or hate him.
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