Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Austin is just a typical Iowa boy. He has a banging hot girlfriend, and a pretty cool best friend, who is also gay. So, okay that isn't so typical Iowa. And he also has some kind of ambiguous feelings about Austin, but that's normal for a teenage boy, right? Being confused about your sexuality is just part of growing up... totally typical. In their typical Iowa town, there is also a factory (now defunct) famous for its typical toothbrushes. Their inventor was his girlfriend's stepdad's (now dead) brother. Apparently, that guy wasn't so typical. He had some serious issues.

Austin and his best friend Robby couldn't have known any of that, or that his girlfriend Shann's stepdad kept a bunch of his wacko brother's weird experiments. When the two of them (after a particularly confusing situation) decide to break into Shann's stepdad's store, and unwittingly aid some dumb punks in stealing - and breaking - one of said experiments, they have no idea of the consequences. Like, end-of-the-world giant hungry, horny mantises consequences.

Now the two boys have to decide what to do; both about the confusing situation, and the whole end-of-the-world thing. In the midst of all this, Austin is recording history as he knows it, because that is what Austin does. That is how he deals with the world, and that is how he is dealing with the multiple traumas of this situation. So in addition to these two major events, we learn so much more about Austin's life and history and family. This is a book about everything, like all good books should be.

Smith said he "wrote things that I believed nobody would ever see" in this book, and it shows. It isn't written for an editor or publisher, it isn't "classy," and I wouldn't be surprised to see it on the banned books list in the next few years. What it does have is originality, a sincere voice that I can hear in my head, and a plot within a genre that many consider to be overdone that manages to still hold surprises. I love how Smith writes, and I love this book.
"But even though we dutifully archived elaborate records of everything we've ever done, we've also managed to keep on doing dumber and dumber shit.
This is my history.
There are things in here: babies with two heads, insects as big as refrigerators, God, the devil, limbless warriors, rocket ships, sex, diving bells, theft, wars, monsters, internal combustions engines, love, cigarettes, joy, bomb shelters, pizza, and cruelty.
Just like it's always been," (Smith pg. 8, 2014).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith (Marbury, Book 1)
I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells (John Cleaver, Book 1)
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride (Necromancer, Book 1)

Smith, Andrew. (2014). Grasshopper Jungle: a history. New York: Dutton Books (Penguin Group).