Grasshopper Jungle: A History by Andrew Smith

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GrasshopperJungle16 year-old Austin Szerba is the self-appointed historian of the end of the world, in this YA science fiction horror story that is a gonzo mix of teen mundanity and armageddon.

Austin and his best friend, Robby, inadvertently unleash an army of Unstoppable Soldiers, giant mantid-like beasts, who only want to do two things – eat  (humans) and procreate. And if that wasn’t enough, Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann and with Robby and is in a perpetual state of sexual arousal and confusion.

Austin records, in obsessive and occasionally repetitious detail, the webs of physical and temporal links and connections that lead to and result from this catastrophe, and also weaves in the history of his own family.

Smith (The Marbury Lens, 2010) captures perfectly the contradictions of a teenager: Austin goes from raunchy to biology text book, from hilarious self-centeredness to serious reflection on the ethics of science and the military, as he tries to make sense of his feelings and what is happening in the wider world. Will appeal to older teens who like salacious black humor with their apocalypses.

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