Tag Archives: Andrew Smith

Grasshopper Jungle: Funny/Honest Teen Novel Meets Mutant Insects!

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew SmithGrasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith is the greatest novel you’ll ever read about six-foot-tall praying mantis soldiers devouring a small town in Iowa.

It might also be the best book you read all year. It’s funny, weird, rambling, and full of the profanity and sex you’d expect from a 16-year-old narrator.

It starts off as another story of an outcast teenager, struggling with life and his attraction to his girlfriend and gay best friend. But it turns into apocalypse by experimental mutant insects. It gets there (and holds together) thanks to the wonderful narration of 16-year-old Austin, a wannabe historian who lays it all out and explores the weird connections and fascinating underbelly of an economically depressed community in rural Iowa.

While the premise is incredibly weird/awesome, I think it’s the voice of this searching, yearning, experimenting teen that makes it so good. Here’s the perfect example sentence:

“History provides a compelling argument that every scientist who tinkers with unstoppable shit needs a reliable flamethrower.”

It’s as if my two favorite genres—funny yet painfully honest teen novel and post-apocalyptic sci-fi—got together to create a genetically modified hybrid super-genre that kicks every other book’s ass.