Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith...

How I Heard About It:  If I remember right, Donalyn Miller told me about this novel at at workshop I was at of hers.  I also saw it "discussed" many times via Twitter.  When I made a goal of reading one young adult novel a week, this was at the top of the list.

What It Is About:  This is not an easy task to describe this novel.  Even after reading it, I'm not completely sure of what it was about.  Austin and Robby are best friends.  Robby is gay, but Austin isn't sure if he is or isn't.  He does have a girlfriend named Shann, but he also has feelings for Robby.  They all live in Ealing, Iowa.  Grasshopper Jungle is an area by a mall in town.  Many of the kids in town hang out here and cause trouble.  During one visit to Grasshopper Jungle, a bunch of boys show up and give Robby and Austin a hard time leading to some of Robby's blood left on the pavement.  Robby and Austin break into the mall to see what they can find in Austin's bosses office.  They find a container with a strange liquid in it.  At the same time, the boys that beat them up, break into the same office and steal the container.  It ends up breaking in the parking lot of the Grasshopper Jungle releasing a deadly "potion."  This potion ends up creating GIANT 6-foot praying mantises that are going to try to take over the entire town and "eat" all of the residents.  During this time Robby and Austin find a "bunker" in a field near Shann's town.  They find out that this bunker of built in the 1960's to protect some of the residents from this deadly virus.  Robby and Austin realize it is up to them to save themselves and the town from these creatures before they take over not only the town, but the world.

What I Thought Of It:   It has been a few days since I finished the novel, but I'm still not quite sure what I thought of this novel.  I loved it.  I hated it.  I was captivated by it.  I was disturbed by it.  I couldn't put it down.  I had to put it down.  This really was like no other novel I have read.  There was lots of profanity.  There was lots of sex talk.  There was lots of high school kids having impure thoughts.  I liked the characters of Robby and Austin and I was probably just as confused about the character of Austin as he was about himself.  The plot of engaging, interesting, and extremely unique.  This book lived up to everything that everyone said about it.  Overall, it was a terrific read and I'm glad that I finally read it.

Who Should Read It:  In some ways I'm surprised this is a YA novel, but it was very adult.  Maybe I'm showing my age when I think that this might not be appropriate for younger high school kids, but what do I know.  I'm sure juniors and seniors would love the story line and be able to relate to many of the themes in the book.  Not the mantises, but many of the other themes.  I also think adult readers would be intrigued by this story.  Also, if you are a fan of Andrew Smith, then this is a book you have to read.  Happy Reading!

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

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