Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith is about the end of the world as told by 16-year-old Austin Szerba. Austin is confused: He’s in love with his girlfriend Shann, but he’s also in love with Robby, his gay best friend. Austin is preoccupied with history, and he points out that history chews up sexual confused young men.
Austin’s narration meanders and repeats itself. He gives us history lessons about his Polish ancestors as well as telling us the unlikely series of events that led to unstoppable, giant, man-eating praying mantises being unleashed on the fictional town of Ealing, Iowa. Yes, you read that right: Giant, man-eating praying mantises.
Grasshopper Jungle is a brutally honest work. Smith is an amazing writer. He has expertly tapped into the adolescent male mind. A word of warning: This book is awesome, and it also contains copious profanity, sexual situations and people being eaten by giant bugs. I recommend it to readers looking for a highly original YA book.