Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Grasshopper Jungle

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Grasshopper Jungle

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Grasshopper JungleGrasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Published by Dutton Juvenile on February 11, 2014
Genres: Horror, Humor, Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
Pages: 388
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Amazon โ€ข The Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

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.

This book is absolutely, one hundred percent bonkers. I’ve read my fair share of truly strange, baffling novels, and Grasshopper Jungle is up there. Really high up on that list, in fact. Smith’s novel also has the luxury of being one of the few incredibly strange novels to really strike my fancy. Usually, I’m left feeling bored and confused, but Smith had me laughing every couple of pages and really engaged in the absurd premise. For this, he has earned me as a fan.

I’m not going to sugarcoat this: a lot of people are going to be very unhappy with this novel. It’s risky, edgy, gory, gross, honest, and full of profanity. Austin, the narrator, doesn’t hold anything back, and he doesn’t try to make himself look any better for the historical record of the end of the world that he’s composing. It feels like you’re in a teen boy’s filthy, sex-crazed mind, because YOU ARE. Personally, I loved how authentic the voice was, but not everyone can handle that much discussion of balls, masturbation and what makes a teen boy horny (spoiler: almost everything.

A big, huge part of why I ended up being such a big fan of Grasshopper Jungle is the romance. For the first time ever, I have a bisexual ship involving three people that is completely legit. Austin loves his girlfriend Shann Collins, but he also thinks he might be in romantic love with his gay best friend Robby Brees. Much of the novel deals with Austin’s exploration and consideration of his own sexuality. Society tells him that what he is feeling is wrong, but he can’t help feeling that way. I’ve never encountered anything like this in YA before, and Smith does such a good job making it believable and making me care.

Then there’s that whole thing with grasshoppers. Grasshopper Jungle, in addition to being a boundary-pushing, wonderful LGBT story, is also a campy B horror novel. It’s like one of those horror movies even I can watch (and I am a total wimp for horror), because it’s so absurd and the effects are so poorly done that you’re laughing even when you’re supposed to be scared. Because of a leftover remnant of experiments from the 1970s, a few people in a small Iowa town hatch gigantic unstoppable grasshoppers out of their bodies that then proceed to do two things: eat and fuck.

Like a campy horror film, Grasshopper Jungle is incredibly hilarious. I cannot come close to estimating how many times this book made me laugh out loud, because it was so many times. However, unlike a campy horror film, the characterization and the horror scenes are both very well done. It’s a wry send up of those horror films, while also doing something horror rarely does well: making the reader care about the characters. I was seriously concerned at a couple of points about the fate of the main characters, which almost never happens in horror novels, because I don’t really care about anyone either way. The horror doesn’t start up for a while in Grasshopper Jungle, because Smith is setting the stage and making you care. Oh, AND, there is an adorable dog who can’t bark named Ingrid View Spoiler »

The one thing that sometimes didn’t work for me about Grasshopper Jungle was the repetition. Austin repeats himself quite a bit. In some cases, like with “It was not a good idea,” the repetition actually served a really great purpose. It’s a darkly comic line in the style of “so it goes” from Slaughterhouse-Five. Other times, though, the repetition of particular things seems intended to help draw connections for the audience. There’s a lot of clever interweaving of historical events with modern ones, and attention paid to what a small world it is sometimes. This, I loved. However, Austin seems to feel it necessary to spell all of this out for the reader, so I would have deja vu reading over the same comments several times, just in case the reader couldn’t put that all together.

My other issue is all the smoking. Everyone has their turn offs, and, in both real life and fiction, I hate smoking. While it’s not exactly idealized, it’s definitely not shown as a stupid thing in Grasshopper Jungle either. That may be realistic, but I cannot endorse that at all.

For the right sort of reader, I highly recommend Grasshopper Jungle. What sort of person is that? Someone who’s not bothered by profanity, sexuality or horror, and who loves dark comedy. If you have a friend obsessed with campy horror films, as I do, give them this. They will love it. Grasshopper Jungle isn’t the sort of book I would normally think I would love, so I also recommend taking a chance on it if you’re not sure. Read the sample on Amazon; you’ll know pretty quickly whether you love it. The highest praise I can offer is that, before I even finished, I added all of Smith’s other books to my to-read list, because, if he can pull off something like this, he is a major talent.

Favorite Quote:

Readers of history may decide that joking while two guys are driving around through a town that has recently been slaughtered by six-foot-tall praying mantis beasts with shark-tooth-studded arms is in poor taste.

It is.

But that is exactly what real boys have always done when confronted with the brutal aftermath of warfare.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Them

Giveaway:

Thanks to the wonderful people at Penguin Teen and Lady Reader’s Bookstuff Tours, you can enter to win a finished copy ofย Grasshopper Jungle AND a swanky t-shirt to go along with the book. The Unstoppable Corn t-shirt will make perfect, hilarious sense once you’ve read your shiny hardback. Remember that you can visit the other tour stops for more chances to win!

The giveaway is open to US entrants only, sorry!
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13 responses to “Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Grasshopper Jungle”

  1. anne says:

    This book sounds fabulous and unique. I enjoyed your wonderful review. Thanks for this giveaway.

  2. Tammy says:

    I read Winger and really liked the guys POV in it, shocking in parts and it made me glad to be a girl. So I’m hoping this has just as unique POV.

  3. The fact that you can really understand your character and feel as if you’re in their head is awesome. Being surrounded by teen boys all the time, I still don’t totally understand them and I feel like this book would teach me more than being around one all the time. I’m glad that you liked this one and it’s dark comedy! Grasshopper Jungle doesn’t sound like my kind of book at all but I just love the idea of it. Fantastic review, Christina! <33
    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday (1): Swoon-Worthy BooksMy Profile

  4. Angie F. says:

    So I had no clue what this book was about until now! It sounds super fun and unique, and I loooooove that the MC is bi! And has feelings for two people! That definitely makes me want to read it.

    I am a little nervous about how strange it sounds. I’m not really a fan of horror in any form, but I have seen a couple of those campy B horrors, so maybe I’ll like it. I’m willing to give it a try. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Angie F. recently posted…Review: Fates (Fates, #1) by Lanie BrossMy Profile

  5. Perhaps I should give this a try. I do need a good laugh.
    Lenore Appelhans recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: The Books That Made Me WeepMy Profile

  6. This book sounds bizarre, but I like the realistic portrayal of a teenage boy and how there is a different sort of love-triangle. I took your advice and went to amazon to read the first couple of pages and for now, I don’t think I’ll be reading this book. I never realized that it was partly horror by the way. Gigantic grashoppers, haha. Interesting.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…First impression: Literally.My Profile

  7. Dani Sarabia says:

    I can’t wait to read this. I’ve read Winger and I really like his writing style and humorous take on things.

  8. Bonnie says:

    How STRANGE. I hadn’t read the summary for this so wasn’t really sure what to expect but I can definitely say it wasn’t that. Gigantic grasshoppers that hatch out of peoples bodies?? Whoa. Interesting that he manages to make it a comedy as well. Definitely unique. Great review!
    Bonnie recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday – Cavendon Hall by Barbara Taylor BradfordMy Profile

  9. Dana says:

    I’m excited about this book because everyone keeps saying it’s “crazy” but awesome anyway, which is really intriguing. I want to experience the awesome crazy too!

    I actually tried reading “John Dies at the End,” a while ago, which was crazy, but a totally random crazy. It was hilarious and well written, but the randomness started wearing on me by the last fifth of the book, and I ended up skimming to finish it off. I’m thinking “Grasshopper Jungle” is more of a cohesive crazy, which is better than random crazy.

    Also, huge praying mantises. Who wouldn’t want to read about that?

    What movie is the GIF at the end of your review from?

  10. Darith L. says:

    Probably the writing! I am really interested in seeing how the story is told! It sounds very funny and I’m sure I’ll be on a wild ride! ๐Ÿ˜€

  11. Heather says:

    I’m so excited for this book, and have been even before I knew what it was about. But now that I’ve heard so much about all the crazy things Andrew Smith has thrown into this story- I can’t wait!!!!! Having only read Winger before I’m most excited to get more male voice from Smith’s perspective. I loved how genuine and real he made Ryan Dean seem, so I’m even more intrigued to see how he expresses the mind of a bi-curious teen. And the idea of an insect-apocalypse doesn’t sound too bad either! Thanks for the good insight into this book, and for the giveaway!

  12. Cee says:

    Humor draws me in! I like any book that can make me smile or laugh. Andrew Smith’s Winger managed to do that, and I’m sure Grasshopper Jungle will do the same. I’m really excited to see the bizarre-ness of the book and how the main character explores his sexuality.

  13. LOL that gif.

    TING A LING.

    I really liked Grasshopper Jungle and totally concur, it was nuts. in a good way.

    Also, yeah I think people will be offended and it will end up banned at some point, but still awesome book.
    April Books & Wine recently posted…Brotherhood | AB Westrick | Book ReviewMy Profile

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