Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (ARC)

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (Penguin)
Release Date: February 11th, 2014
Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the storyof 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.

"[Austin has] a unique voice, but it's one that you have to like in order to get through the book."

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book via Penguin's First to Read program. This did not affect my review in any way, and I was not compensated for the review.

I had heard great things about this book, but clearly, I shouldn't have set my expectations so high. Oops.

The book reminded me quite a bit of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, at least at first glance. What makes it so reminiscent is the voice of the protagonist, Austin. It's a unique voice, but it's one that you have to like in order to get through the book.

I, for one, did not like the voice. I was able to get through Perks for various other reasons, but I couldn't get through Grasshopper Jungle. The thing is, I wasn't sure whether or not I would push myself to read it to the end because I could see the glimpse of the potential, and I could see the potential of it straying a little bit from the events and thoughts of Austin at the beginning of the book. But it was his "voice" that I couldn't get through.

I kept getting annoyed or just felt really awkward. I don't need to know that you're feeling horny every two seconds. Yes, I did like the exploration of sexual orientation and of the confusion that it is, but I didn't need to feel so overwhelmed by it. And I couldn't stand the way Austin treats or talks to/about others.

And now that I think about it, maybe it's because he's so self-centered or something, but I, as the reader, don't actually know all that much about Shann or about Robby. All I took away from what he said/thought was that Shann is his girlfriend and he wants to have sex with her and that Robby is his best friend, is gay, and [SPOILERS] kissed him [END SPOILER], making him even more confused about his sexual orientation (since he liked it/didn't mind it).

All of this being said, I can see some people liking it. I really can. I can see myself finishing it. But I don't want this to bog me down, and I don't want this to drag me into a reading slump again. So, with all that being said, and not holding anything against this book other than personal preference, this was a DNF.

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  1. Eek. This book sounds like the kind of story that requires a precise kind of voice, and it's too bad that the main character didn't work for you. I ended up loving the slightly awkward but relatable narration in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but this seems like a less-successful attempt at something similar. Thanks for sharing your thoughts; I think I'll pass this one up now!

    1. I think it was handled better in Perks, and I also found that to be more relate-able. I know a lot of people that actually liked Austin's voice in this book, but it's not for me.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. I never read The Perks of Being a Wallflower... That said, Grasshopper Jungle looks fairly interesting, but not my cup of tea.

    1. Yeah, that's basically how it was for me. Interesting concept but not right for me. :)

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting during that Twitter madness!

  3. Grasshopper Jungle seems like something I would read, but a story like this is a make or break: it'll either work or not. From the way you're describing it, it seems like the MC is missing a specific quality to him that will make him likeable. I will still read it, since I was a fan of Chance to Dance for You (you should read it), but tbh, I didn't like perks as much as everyone else did. I sorta forced myself to read it :$ good review!

    1. I'll definitely need to check out Chance to Dance for You. I also sorta forced my way through Perks. I liked it to some extent (like there are some amazing passages and quotes), but it was hard to get through (I LOVED the movie though). I'd probably give Perks ~3 star rating.

      Anyway, back to the point, I just couldn't make myself feel anything for the MC and it made it hard to get through the book. Perhaps I'll try again some day. :D

      Thanks for stopping by, Ally! <3

  4. This one actually looked like something I would love. I heard lots of good things about Winger and hoped I would like it. Perks is something I haven't read yet, but again, recieved a lot of hype. Sorry you DNFed but hope your next read will be better. <333

    1. I would love to see what you think if you do read it. I've also heard good things about Winger. I think my library has it, so maybe I'll pick it up over the summer or something. :)

      Thanks! <333 And thanks for commenting, darling! *hugs*


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