Fire by Kristin Cashore
Grasshopper Jungle is one of the strangest books I have ever read in my life.
The end of the world is being brought about by six foot something, ravenous grasshopper-type insects. Yes, really. But the book is so much more than that. It’s very crude - there’s muchos talk of sperm and balls, but in between all the testosterone there’s humour, endearing friendships, and general teenage confusion.
It’s a depiction of small town life, a questioning of one’s identify and orientation, and an examination of human history.
But I no longer care to ask the question, What am I going to do? Sometimes it is perfectly acceptable to decide not to decide, to remain confused and wide-eyed about the next thing that will pop up in the and you build.
The narrative style is what put me off - I just couldn’t get into it. Austin, our narrator, moves back and forth in time, and includes all the details, from the inane to the interesting.
The protagonist is decidedly flawed, but nevertheless, I found this story heart-warming, in a very odd way.
If you’re looking for something different, then give it a go. Like I said - helluava weird, but compelling, and the author includes a number of astute observations that really struck a chord with me.
Panic, AKA The Book In Which Teenagers Do Stupid Shit
I’m not sure where people got the idea that this is a rip-off Hunger Games, except maybe from misinterpreting the blurb, but Panic is firmly in the realm of contemporary, not dystopia.
Set in small-town America, there is basically fuck all to do, and a bunch of bored teenagers is always a recipe for disaster. Panic is a fear-factor type game played by the town teenagers during the summer holiday, with a pretty big money prize for the winner. (Everyone contributes to the pot throughout the school year.)
Participants get eliminated through a serious of challenges, usually of the death-defying, law-breaking kind, and there are 2 judges, whose identities remain a secret. Of course, in a town where opportunities are thin on the ground, the financial incentive appeals to almost all the kids with dreams and ambitions, who want to leave and make something of themselves.
There are 4 main characters, although as far as I recall, the story is only narrated by two of them - Dodge and Heather. Heather, with a little sister and drug addicted mother, needs the money for a new start. Dodge is out for revenge. Heather’s best friend and Dodge’s love interest, Natalie, wants the cash so she can go to LA and be a model/actress thingy. (Hey, no one said they were fiscally responsible). And Bishop, Heather’s other BFF from childhood, is not quite what he seems.
The concept did intrigue me, but reading about teenagers doing stupid stuff just made me want to bang my head against the wall and thank my lucky stars that I am past those hormone-infused and emotionally-fueled years. Of course, it all ended a little too conveniently for my liking, but for those of you who like your HEAs, never fear.