Wednesday, May 7, 2014

REVIEW: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Unstoppable soldiers. Lemur masks. Dissolving testicles. Polish histories. A saint. These are a few of the things that have crossing paths in this green novel about the start of the end of the world. Austin and his best friend Robby Brees are outcasts who split their days between going to a Lutheran Academy where they are forced to wear candy cane inspired neck ties and riding their skateboards while smoking fags and speaking theoretically/theologically about the histories of those who have come before them.

Austin is a chronic journal keeper. Every night he writes down the details that piece his life together. There are three people that appear most in his recent installments; well two people and a dog. His best friend Robby, his girlfriend Shann and his dog Ingrid who is famous for not being able to bark and for her uncanny ability to shit. Austin is madly, truly, deeply in love with his girlfriend Shann and his best friend Robby Brees. If you think that is complicated Austin and Robby also manage to be part of the reason the world is now coming to an end. The cause: six foot praying mantises whose two favorite things to do are “eat and fuck.” They also shit like Ingrid.

Through the narration of our own historian Austin, Andrew Smith weaves together the tales that have brought this crew to their current point in time. While the writing is incredible, and may be fighting The Wolf of Wall Street for the most F-bombs dropped, the amount of times Smith uses the same details for the same characters whenever that person is mentioned becomes a bit tiring. It is as if I introduced you to my dog as "the big eared, strong nosed, prematurely graying around the jowls hound, canus lupus familiaris, Max." I talk about my dog a lot and would be telling you this every time I mention him. It can get to you. While the amount of detail is appreciated I’m not sure it had to be revisited every. Single. Time. (Like those periods) Although I did read the advanced reading copy so nothing was final.

Grasshopper Jungle is incredibly edgy, pushes boundaries, has tons of heart, is smart, may have a true bisexual leading man and doesn’t kill the dog. Stick with it and see the history of one teen’s family and how it leads him to his future at the end of the world.

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