Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Release Date: March 1, 2014
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Rated: YA 15+
Format: ARC
Source: Pansing
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of 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.

After finishing this one, there is truly only one word that sums it up: WOW. Just...WOW. Oh my gosh. I can’t believe I put this one off so long. It took me four attempts to start it – not because it was bad, but because things kept coming up. The fourth and final time I read this book, which was around a year after the previous attempt, I FINALLY finished it.


What a strange and wonderful book! Honestly, I find it so difficult to tell people what this book is about. If I were to describe it, it would come off as being weird and something many people wouldn’t enjoy. Something along the lines of – this is a story about love and history... AND it has gigantic praying mantises. People would think I was crazy or something. Nope, so I’m gonna have Austin’s character describe it to you from the beginning of the story:

This is my history. There are things in here: babies with two heads, insects and big as refrigerators, God, the devil, limbless warriors, rocket ships, sex, diving bells, theft, wards, monsters, internal combustion engines, love, cigarettes, joy, bomb shelters, pizza, and cruelty.
Just like it’s always been.
–p. 8, ARC*
*text is subject to change in the final version

See? Much better than how I would have put it.

I remember starting this one (the first attempt to read this book) around the time I finished reading Slaughterhouse-Five for class. The writing style is similar in the sense that it jumps around a bit – not as crazily as SH5 – but like Vonnegut, Smith has a method to his madness. You only truly understand why it’s important to include the small details, or the larger ideas of what’s happening elsewhere because it all CONNECTS. In the end, you come to realise that, holy crap: it all makes sense now.

The literature student in me so desperately wants to just sit down with this book for a month and analyze the hell out of this book. There’s so much to look at because this book is so rich in detail and has such a unique structure. Just looking at the history this book incorporates, it’s influences and the allusions it makes would be such an interesting study... now I’m seriously tempted to do this! *inner-geek flails*

I feel like I’ve gone through a life-changing experience after reading this book. I cannot express how mind-blowingly excellent Grasshopper Jungle is, how stunning Andrew Smith’s prose is, and how I’m absolutely looking forward to reading more of his novels. This is by far the best book I’ve read in a long time, definitely the best book published in 2014 for me, and it’s going to be difficult finding another that will top this one. Truly a masterpiece of a book, filled with such a unique premise and unforgettable characters, this is a fantastic story that no one should miss out on.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha from Pansing for sending a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

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  1. I saw this book around a couple of months ago and it didn't really grab my attention but it sounds different and unique - I think I'll have to give it a go! Fantastic review! :)

  2. Omg we read this for my book club and I think I was the only one that liked it. I don't know if you know this but I read the acknowledgements and the author never intended to get it published. He just wrote it for the sake of writing so he did really outlandish things that he normally wouldn't have. I really liked knowing that because he didn't hold back in this book.

  3. So glad you liked it! It's definitely a very "full" book, in the sense that you could spend a long time unpacking everything Smith put into it. Have you read anything else by him? We actually like WINGER best so far. We're eager to check out his latest, THE ALEX CROW, soon too!


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