Thursday, September 25, 2014

Audio Book Review: Grasshopper Jungle

Grasshopper Jungle   

By Andrew Smith
Narrated by Philip Church
Story: *****
Narration: *****

“History provides a compelling argument that every scientist who tinkers around with unstoppable shit needs a reliable flamethrower.” 
― Andrew SmithGrasshopper Jungle

From Goodreads: 
Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of 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.

From Me: 
Umm...sooo this book. It's, do I?... Huh.

Let's try this again. Grasshopper Jungle is unlike any book I've read...EVER. The story is completely bonkers. BUT IN A GOOD WAY. 

I'm not going to go into what the story's about - it's impossible for me to describe and you can read the official synopsis above. That being said, this world is both familiar and bizarre and the boys go through normal teenage stuff as well as events that are wackadoo. The story was at times hilarious, touching, and gross. Austin's "history" was fascinating, especially the way Andrew Smith had everything circle back to itself. I found myself completely enthralled. You know what I mean.

If you're easily offended by mature-immature content (and by that I mean the thoughts, words, and actions common to pubescent teenagers - and if you think they aren't, then you're probably deluding yourself) then this book probably isn't for you. But if you like the strange and bizarre, if you like stories about growing up and trying to understand yourself, if you like books about friendship and love and family, then this book is for you. And if you know a teen who thinks reading is boring or dumb or a waste of time, give them this book - I'm pretty sure they'll have a difficult time putting it down...or getting their eyes to pop back into their heads. BUT IN A GOOD WAY.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Review - In Your Dreams

In Your Dreams (Blue Heron #4)  
By Kristan Higgins
*** 1/2
"Nothing kicked off Emmaline Neal's weekend like using a Taser." --In Your Dreams, Kristan Higgins
Emmaline is a small town cop who needs a date to her ex's wedding. Jack, scion of a wine dynasty, is known for being happy to help women who have need of dates for various life events - just a good guy doing a nice thing, no strings, no romance. In the process, they find they like each other more than a little, but complications back home make getting together difficult, if not impossible.

One of the interesting things about this story is the long looks at what went on in Jack and Emmaline's pasts prior to the current action. We get to see both of their past relationships in great detail. This added a lot of depth to the story and fleshed out what made Jack and Emmaline the people they are today, but I couldn't help wanting to get back to their presents rather than spending so much time in their pasts. This is the main reason I didn't rate this book higher; I was much more engaged in their *now* than I was in their *then.*

There's a lot of great humor (though I could do with out all many the embarrassing moments - I don't know, I may have too much empathy or something, but I *hate* reading/watching/seeing/doing humiliating things), and while you have to suspend reality to believe in the adorable small town atmosphere, the situations were believable. Mixed in with the flirting and cute relationship stuff were some fairly intense situations, including the aftermath of a horrible car accident and subsequent PTSD, family drama, and bullying. This book may look like a light-hearted romp at first glance, but there are parts that give the story weight, as well.

In Your Dreams is the 4th book in the Blue Heron series. I wasn't aware of that prior to reading (I hate coming into a series late), but it didn't affect the story - it can very much be read as a standalone. I never felt like I was missing any important details; rather, knowing that the supporting characters likely get more page-time in other books made me more interested in reading the rest.

Kristan Higgins is incredibly popular at my library, and I have no doubt that this book will please those fans, as well as lovers of contemporary romance and stories of relationships and character growth.

*FYI - the cover art is wintery, but this is not a holiday title.

**I received In Your Dreams as an Advanced eGalley from Net Galley**