Apparently the end of the world will happen in the Midwest. More specifically the end of the world will happen in Iowa. Andrew Smith’s novel, Grasshopper Jungle, is set in a fictional town in Iowa and is told from the point of view of a teenage boy, Austin, who only really thinks about two things…food and sex. So if you are easily offended, you may want to avoid this book because there is an awful lot about sex that some people might find offensive. “You know what I mean.”
I liked Grasshopper Jungle. More specifically, I liked Austin Szerba, the historian. I admired Austin’s observations about history and how he is connected to it. Austin shares a lot of his family history and the history of the inhabitants of his hometown in an effort to show how everything in the universe is connected.
“…I knew my accounts were ultimately nothing more than an abbreviation. … But no historian could ever put everything that happened in a book. The book would be as big as the universe, and it would take multiple countless lifetimes to read. History necessarily had to be an abbreviation.” page 67
I wasn’t so much a fan of Austin Szerba, the sexually confused teen. After a while, I became annoyed with Austin’s and Robby’s, his best friend, constant smoking, fowl language and bad attitudes. Perhaps that is a sign I am old. I just wanted Austin “to figure it out.” However, I have never questioned my sexual orientation so I recognize that it is a little unreasonable for me to be asking a fictional teenager to just figure it out and get on with it.
Grasshopper Jungle is an apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic science fiction novel that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There were many laugh out loud moments for me. While the future may look bleak and may involve Unstoppable Giant Praying Mantises that are very hungry and very horny, it reminded me that even in the bleakest and most confusing situations laughter can be the best medicine. Grasshopper Jungle receives a thumbs up.