Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the storyof 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.
What can I say about this book? I’m sitting here wracking my brain because the feels I have for this book surpass almost anything I have ever felt for a young adult book before. Grasshopper Jungle is a story about small-town America, homophobia, friendship and love. It was amazing, it was weird, it was incredibly addicting, and it is a rare piece of green covered gold. It is shocking, it is vulgar and at the same time it is incredibly hilarious. It cannot be lumped into just one genre, because what starts off as a contemporary novel quickly shifts into a science fiction story about six feet tall, man eating grasshopper-like beasts that consume the world. It is about the private inner struggle of a boy in love with both his girlfriend and his male best friend. Andrew Smith is one of those amazing authors that are rare gems in the reading world. What I absolutely love about his writing sooo much is that you can tell that he writes for himself, instead of popularity (I mean obviously he has that too, but that doesn’t dictate to his writing style). He writes marvelous, intricate stories that never follow the norm, Andrew is a leader among equals as he forages a new path for young adult authors.
This book starts off with two sixteen-year-old best friends, both of whom are male, one of whom is definitely gay while the other is unmistakably confused. This day is just like any other day for these boys except this time when they get beaten up by bullies, they decide to reclaim their lost clothing and skateboards from the roof where they were tossed by said bullies. They discover the roof access to the store below and decide to go exploring. This is the beginning of the end. What they discovered is the strange results of a mad scientists mind. Bits and pieces of biological experiments floating in jars, just sitting on a shelf. Unknown to the boys they are followed and one of the experiments is stolen and accidentally dropped, initiating the infestation. Soon anyone who comes into contact with the strange substance becomes a host to a giant man-eating bug.
Luckily for the boys, they have a relationship—one is friends with, while the other is dating, yet confused about his sexual attraction for his male best friend—with a girl who is the stepdaughter of the man who is the younger brother of the mad scientist. And together the boys and girlfriend discover an underground “bomb shelter” of sorts. It was built, years ago, in preparation for the infestation to happen again. It was built to house the new strain of humanity while above ground the world is being destroyed by giant, man-eating bugs.
I can’t even put into words just how good this book was. Just go out and read it already.