- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Speak (February 17, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0142425001
- ISBN-13: 978-0142425008
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 202 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Grasshopper Jungle Paperback – February 17, 2015
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“A literary joy to behold. . . . reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, in the best sense.”
—The New York Times Book Review
"This raunchy, bizarre, smart and compelling sci-fi novel defies description – it's best to go into it with an open mind and allow yourself to be first drawn in, then blown away."
“[Grasshopper Jungle] reads more like an absurdist Middlesex… and is all the better for it. A-”
“Nuanced, gross, funny and poignant, it's wildly original.”
—The San Francisco Chronicle
“If you appreciate kooky humor, sentences that bite, and a nuanced understanding of human beings’ complicated natures and inexplicable actions, then you, too, will love Smith’s bold, bizarre, and beautiful novel.”
—The Boston Globe
“The end of the world comes with neither a bang nor a whimper but with a dark chuckle and the ominous click-click of giant insect mandibles in this irreverent, strangely tender new novel by Andrew Smith. This but hints at the intricately structured, profound, profanity-laced narrative between these radioactive-green covers.”
—The Washington Post
“Andrew Smith’s writing grabs you. He takes phrases and turns them into recurring motifs that punctuate the story, until by the end you start to expect them, maybe even mutter them to yourself. And the way that he takes all these seemingly disparate plot strands and weaves them together is masterful… Once you get lost in Grasshopper Jungle you won’t want to be found.”
“No author writing for teens today can match Andrew Smith’s mastery of the grotesque, the authentic experiences of teenage boys or the way one seamlessly becomes a metaphor for the other.”
—BookPage, Top February Teen Pick
"A meanderingly funny, weirdly compelling and thoroughly brilliant chronicle of ‘the end of the world, and shit like that’...a mighty good book."
—Kirkus, starred review
"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."
— Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Original, honest, and extraordinary… pushes the boundaries of young adult literature."
—School Library Journal, starred review
“Grasshopper Jungle plays like a classic rock album, a killing machine of a book built for the masses that also dives effortlessly into more challenging, deeper regions of emotion. Above all else, when it's done you want to play it all over again. It's sexy, gory, hilarious, and refreshingly amoral. I wish I'd had this book when I was fifteen. It almost makes me sad that it took twenty years to finally find what I'd been looking for.”
—Jake Shears, lead singer of Scissor Sisters
“Grasshopper Jungle is a cool/passionate, gay/straight, male/female, absurd/real, funny/moving, past/present, breezy/profound masterpiece of a book. Every time you think you've figured it out, you haven't. Every time you're sure Andrew Smith must do this, he does that instead. Grasshopper Jungle almost defies description because description can only rob the reader of the pleasure of surrendering to a master storyteller. Original, weird, sexy, thought-provoking and guaranteed to stir controversy. One hell of a book.”
—Michael Grant, New York Times bestselling author of the Gone series
“I found myself saying over and over again, ‘Where in the heck is he going with this?’ all the while turning the pages as fast as I could. Mostly I kept thinking, This was a brave book to write.”
—Terry Brooks, author of the Shannara series
“Andrew Smith is the bravest storyteller I know. Grasshopper Jungle is the most intelligent and gripping book I've read in over a decade. I didn't move for two days until I had it finished. Trust me. Pick it up right now. It's a masterpiece.”
—A. S. King, Printz Honor-winning author of Ask the Passengers and Please Ignore Vera Dietz
“In Grasshopper Jungle, it’s as if Andrew Smith is somehow possessed by the ghost of Kurt Vonnegut. This book is nothing short of a brilliant, hilarious thrill-ride that is instantly infectious. But, the most beautiful thing about Grasshopper Jungle has nothing to do with the absurd or out-of-this-world. It is the deft hand by which Smith explores teenage love and sexuality that is truly breathtaking. In writing a history of the end of the world, Smith may have just made history himself.”
—John Corey Whaley, Printz Award-winning author of Where Things Come Back
“Grasshopper Jungle is about the end of the world. And everything in between.”
—Alex London, author of Proxy
“Austin’s narrative voice fizzes with catchphrases that keep the reader on track as he dives into history and backstory. His obsessively repetitive but somehow endearing style calls to mind Vonnegut and Heller. This novel approaches its own edge of sophisticated brutality, sensory and intellectual overload, and sheer weirdness, and then jumps right off.”
“Smart, poignant and entertaining.” –The New York Times
Los Angeles Times and Publishers Weekly Summer Read picks
Starred reviews**, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus
“Brilliant and remarkably unsettling.” –Kirkus, starred review**
“Smith is a brilliant, almost hallucinatory stylist, who frequently uses his talent to gruesome effect…” –Publishers Weekly, starred review**
“Smith has securely carved out his spot on the darkest fringes of YA lit.” –Booklist, starred review**
Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2012
ALA/YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults
“Smith revs up the emotions and the violence in this realistic and powerful tale…” –Publishers Weekly, starred review**
The Marbury Lens (2010)
ALA/YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults
Starred reviews**, Publishers Weekly and Booklist
Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Books of the Year
Indie Next List
In the Path of Falling Objects (2009)
ALA/YALSA Best Books for Young Adults
Children’s Literature Council Award
Southwest Book Award
Ghost Medicine (2008)
ALA/YALSA Best Books for Young Adults
“Smith’s first novel... defies expectations via its sublime imagery.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review**
About the Author
Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several young adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger and The Marbury Lens. He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle is his seventh novel. He lives in Southern California. You can learn more at authorandrewsmith.com and follow him on Twitter: @marburyjack.
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Austin's Polish ancestors wandered the Old and New World until they found Ealing, IA, and because of them the world ended. Because of Austin and his best friend Robby, the world ended in the clutches of six-foot tall Unstoppable Soldiers that resemble huge praying mantises.
But this is really a story of friendship, and love, and family. And history. Austin sees himself as a historian. He chronicles his days in words and pictures. He tells the truth. He observes. But, he tells more than he observes, because: "This is how history works: it is omniscient. Everyone trusts history. History is unimpeachable, sublime. It is my job." His history fills in the blanks, because that's what historians do.
He is in the middle of serious teen soul-searching, and his honesty is both hilarious and heart-breaking. But at the same time he feels impelled to tell us the history of the end of the world. His heart tries to make sense of it all, and his honesty demands he look at his life with clear eyes.
One of the themes of this book is similar to FRANKENSTEIN, and JURASSIC PARK, as expressed by Dr. Ian Malcolm. I paraphrase: "You were so interested in whether you COULD do this, that you never stopped to think about whether you SHOULD." Of course, Austin states it with his precise honesty: "History provides a compelling argument that every scientist who tinkers around with unstoppable s*** needs a reliable flamethrower."
Smith fills this book with reflections of storytelling and books and history...Austin is the kind of kid I would have loved to teach and talk to. I would have loved reading his history, if he would share.
My only other Smith novel, STICK, did not prepare me for the humor, the goofiness of this one. I don't think any other book could have prepared me for the scope of a story about a boy, his best friend and his girlfriend in IA who probably caused the end of the world. This is original and amazing.
Shann, Austin's girlfriend, says it for me: "I love how you tell stories. I love how, whenever you tell me a story, you go backwards and forwards and tell me everything that could possibly be happening in every direction, like an explosion. Like a flower blooming."
I consider it my job to tell the truth
History does show that boys who dance are far more likely to pass along their genes than boys who don’t
History chews up sexually uncertain boys and spits us out as recycled, generic greeting cards for lonely old men
Secondhand stores are like vacuum cleaners to the world. They suck in everybody’s s***
History is my compulsion. I see the connections
History also shows there aren’t an awful lot of read friends on the record
History lesson for the day – the more time you wait before telling someone the truth about a secret you’ve been keeping, the longer your path out of the woods becomes
History shows that an examination of the personal connection of the titles in any man’s library will provide something of a glimpse into his soul
Good books are about everything
History provides a compelling argument that every scientist who tinkers around with unstoppable s*** needs a reliable flamethrower
This is history, and it is also the truth
This is how history works: it is omniscient. Everyone trusts history
History is unimpeachable, sublime. It is my job
I love how you tell stories. I love how, whenever you tell me a story, you go backwards and forwards and tell me everything that could possibly be happening in every direction, like an explosion. Like a flower blooming.
Sometimes historians need to fill in the blanks on their own. It is part of our job. You trust us because we are historians. Historians are reliable blank-fillers. It is my job.
All roads cross here on my desk. As a historian I realized that we are all on the same road all the time.
All this time I have been devoting too much thought to the guys who painted the bison on the wall of the cave, and too little attention to the bison itself. I mean, the bison is an important member of the team, isn’t he?
I began to consider the fact that maybe history is actually the great destroyer of free will
All good books are about everything, abbreviated
Histories are actually full of conjectures…[that] become so accepted by descendents and readers that time itself is forced to rearrange its own furniture.
Books have everything in them. After the end of the world, you cannot learn a god damned thing from a computer or a television screen.
Sixteen-year-old best friends Robby Brees and Austin Szerba are growing up in the small town of Ealing, Iowa. There isn't much to do, so the boys mostly skateboard and smoke copious amounts of cigarettes. Robby is gay; Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, as well as Robby, and that's difficult on all of them, especially considering that nearly everything in the world makes Austin horny.
They start to notice weird things around town—Shann hears a constant ticking noise behind the walls of the new house her family has moved into (a house that originally belonged to her late uncle, who was a scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur in Ealing) and the boys discover the noise is from an antique teletype machine, constantly repeating a warning message that doesn't make sense. And then they stumble upon an underground shelter that is unlike anything they've ever seen, built to protect people from an unimaginable disaster.
But that disaster is no longer imaginable, as the town suddenly is struck by a plague which turns those it comes in contact with into six-foot-tall praying mantis-type insects with insatiable appetites for two things—food and sex. As Robby and Austin discover how this plague came to be, they realize that the future of the human race may depend on them and few additional people, and they figure out how to defeat the insects. But it's a messy (and dangerous) proposition.
Grasshopper Jungle is zany and tremendously entertaining, but as much as Smith's characters like to say "Uh" a lot, and there's a lot of talk of sperm, and balls, and horniness, at its heart this book is about the beauty of friendship and trying to be comfortable with who you are. It's also a book about how our histories—no matter how bizarre—affect our lives and our futures.
This is definitely not a book for everyone, but if you are in the mood for a crazy but sweet story and aren't phased in the least by horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises, or if your inner teenager is looking for a fun read, you'll definitely enjoy this.