Bizarre and unique, Grasshopper Jungle is a book by Andrew Smith that is definitely unlike any other book out there.
Sixteen year-old Austin has always been obsessed with history, yet he believes that the historians always miss out on some of the details. So Austin decides to write his history, which includes gigantic praying mantises along with his confusion about who he really is. But as the world turns to chaos, all Austin seems to have on his mind is how he is in love with his girlfriend Shann, yet he remains confused as to his sexual orientation. In the end, it is up to Austin to save the world, and hopefully to find out who he really is in the process.
I had no idea what I would be reading when I picked up Grasshopper Jungle. I still have no idea what I’ve just read. What was that? Seriously, what did I just read? This is a book about a confused teenage boy and the story of the end of the world. It’s one of those books that you won’t fully understand unless you’ve read it all and one of those books that is practically impossible to explain you. If I were to say what I felt about Grasshopper Jungle in one word, it would be weird. This book was very weird. It is practically a mash-up of tons of different things into one book. The author tries to include the themes of discovering who you really are and being that person completely, as well as gigantic grasshoppers that are trying to take over the world. This book’s a real mix of ideas; I’ll give it that. Usually, I’m all for weirdness. I consider myself to be quite weird. And random. And perhaps slightly insane at times. But that’s okay because sometimes weird is awesome. Let me tell you, in my opinion, this book wasn’t awesome-weird. It was strange-in-a-bad-way-weird. However, I persisted with this book and tried so hard to like it. And let me tell you this; it wasn’t easy.
Firstly, for the majority of this book, nothing flowed. One page, we’d be pondering on the sexuality of a character. The next, we’d be seeing giant grasshoppers hopping around town. No joke. And I was just sitting thinking: What is this? What is going on? I was so confused for the whole first half of the book as to how everything would like together. Secondly, this book if written from the point of view of Austin, a teenager who is obsessed with history and records his personal history in journals. He thinks that history tends to leave parts out, so he is determined to include everything. And he gets horny. A lot. His overuse of “horny” really annoyed me. I started reading my book and thought: Maybe he will stop using “horny” in every second sentence once I’ve read a bit more. But no, he doesn’t. I’m not joking when I say that he literally uses the word “horny” on every page. There is also a lot a swearing in this book and I guess the author was trying to show how a teenage boy would think, but it just got boring and words were overused.
The characters in this book were… different. That’s for sure. The main character, Austin, is bearable. I didn’t hate him, but I sure didn’t love him. He often sat and thought about life. After probably a total of pages and pages of him pondering about life, I gathered one thing. This boy is confused. He was confused about his sexuality and just about life in general. A lot of this book seemed like I was rereading The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Austin really reminded me of Charlie from The Perks, except I liked Charlie a lot more. The one thing I liked about Austin in Grasshopper Jungle was how he mentioned elements and then circled back to them later. That meant that I was confused as to how this would tie in with the story at first, but then I realised about 30 pages later. I liked to see how seemingly unimportant jokes or side-events came back into the story later on in the book. The other two main characters in this book are Robby, Austin’s gay best friend, and Shann, Austin’s girlfriend. These characters weren’t anything memorable, but they were tolerable and I didn’t mind spending time with them.
Overall, this book wasn’t for me. I found this book really slow in parts and I just wished something interesting would happen. The writing style was very different and unlike anything I’ve ever read. It took a while for me to really get into the author’s style of writing and after a while, I found it bearable, but I didn’t really like it all that much. I’d give Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith a score of 4 out of 10. If you’re looking for a book that is practically The Perks of Being a Wallflower cross between alien invasions, you might want to try this book. If this sounds like the type of book you would like, go for it, but I warn you not to get your hopes up too high.
Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!