By: Melanie | January 30, 2014 | (26) Comments

Review: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew SmithGrasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont Australia
Release Date: February 11, 2014
Genres: GLBT, Science Fiction, YA
Pages: 388
Source: Received in exchange for review
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I read somewhere that human beings are genetically predisposed to record history. We believe it will prevent us from doing stupid things in the future.

This is my history.

There are things in here: babies with two heads, insects as big as electric guitars, god, the devil, limbless warriors, rocket ships, sex, diving bells, theft, wars, monsters, internal combustion engines, love, cigarettes, joy, bomb shelters, pizza, and cruelty.

Just like it’s always been.

Funny, intense, complex and brave, Grasshopper Jungle is a groundbreaking coming-of-age novel about two friends who accidentally bring about the end of humanity.

So. How to put this? Grasshopper Jungle was weird. Weird, for me falls into three categories. There’s good weird, where you just love the quirkiness and originality, WTF weird, which literally makes you think: “What the fuck was that?” and Mel weird–where you act like me. Total psycho and creepy all at once. Grasshopper Jungle falls into all these categories. So yes, I guess the only word fitting for this book is weird. You’d think this book and I would be a real good match then, right? ‘Cause anyone or anything that’s weird is a friend of mine. Sadly, this was not exactly the case.

Good books are always about everything.

You can say that again. Grasshopper Jungle was a good book, and it was about a whole truck of things. However not my type of read. Despite it’s awfully simplistic cover (c’mon it’s just two lines, really) Andrew Smith’s latest was crammed full of words and happenings. Our protagonist, Austin, is a teenage boy from Ealing. He has a gay best friend, Robby, and a girlfriend, Shann. Austin is obsessed with history and gets horny. A lot. Like…seriously? I felt that the word “horny” got overused instead of funny after a few pages. So first off, I would only be recommending this to a more mature audience. (I do believe the category for this is Mature YA or something as such.) There are definitely no hesitations with the coarse language–which is not necessarily a good or bad thing. Apart from Austin’s horniness and infatuation with history, he’s an okay protagonist. I mean, he’s bearable. He tends to sit and ponder about life, such as his sexuality and image really out of the blue situations. He’s also confused. And I’m not exaggerating when I say this dude is verbose. He’s practically always spinning off on a tangent.

And I realized that for a good three and a half minutes, I stood there at the doorway to a big empty house that smelled like old people’s skin, thinking about three-ways involving my friends.
So I wondered if that meant I was gay.
I hadn’t been listening to anything Shann and Robby were talking about, and while I was pondering my sexuality, they were probably thinking about how I was an idiot.

Another quibble I had with this book was the pace. I love my coming of age stories slow and gradual. Unfortunately, Grasshopper Jungle was too slow. As in: oh god move on already. This does weave in with Austin’s random and irrelevant rambling. I mean, I don’t need to have two chapters of you talking about your three grandfathers back grandfather and his name being changed. Sure, it’s interesting but we need to move on now. Too much information is just as bad as too little.

I’m not absolutely sure where I stand when it comes to the writing and format of this book. It was different and certainly had it’s quirks. There’s not an exact word I could use to describe the writing, however I think I enjoyed if after a while. The format is also distinctively contrary. The chapters are shorter than what I had expected and the titles are to the point and summarise each chapter perfectly.

Bizarre, unique and still quite thought provoking, Grasshopper Jungle will capture many people’s attention–though please don’t get your hopes to high as this book is not for everyone like myself, I really wished I loved this more).

~Thank you Hardie Grant Egmont Australia for sending me this copy!~

2.5 Stars
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Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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26 Responses to Review: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

  1. Hmm this one does sound weird! And that cover is even weird. Not sure about this one.
    Jennifer Bielman recently posted…Review: Silver Heart by Victoria Green (Blog Tour & Giveaway)My Profile

  2. Siiri says:

    I like weird. I mean, OCD Love Story was really good, in my opinion, and I’m always up for a little mind-fuckery. I agree on the cover though that it’s not the best one lol. Haha, horny you say? Well, I can’t really blame the guy what with being a teenager, but I guess if you use the word over and over again, it can become a little overbearing and annoying. Ok, maybe not a little, but a lot actually. Totally agreed on too much information being as bad as too little. Sometimes that can really annoy the heck out of me just as The Iron King did (which is why I didn’t love the first book–too much descriptions), though since it was more like a scenery description, I guess it’s more okay than this grandfather name switch lol. I think this book could have been potentially really good, but I don’t think it’s for me and I’m sorry you weren’t exactly a fan. Loved your thorough thougths though πŸ™‚
    Siiri recently posted…Review: Kiss the Sky by Krista and Becca RitchieMy Profile

  3. I like a quirky and bizarre read as much as the next person, but this doesn’t sound like my cup of tea. Great honest review though!

  4. Tanja says:

    I don’t think I have seen this one before but it does sound really weird. I have read your quote from it and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. What was that. I don’t like slow paced books so I’ll give up on this one. Great review, dear πŸ™‚
    Tanja recently posted…ARC Review: Alienated by Melissa LandersMy Profile

  5. Yeah, I’m not sure I was even remotely interested in this book and your review confirmed that I wouldn’t like it much either.
    Austin sounds like an annoying male character. I know teenage guys think about sex and get horny, but sometimes I feel like authors exaggerate everything.
    Thanks for the honest review, Melanie.
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Review : A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra HarveyMy Profile

  6. Hmmm. I’ve never heard of this one before. And I’m not sure it’s for me. I’m glad to see you’re a fan of “weird” though… that makes you cool in and of itself. πŸ™‚ Great review!
    Lisa (Lost in Literature) recently posted…Review: An Endless Summer by C.J. DugganMy Profile

  7. Giselle says:

    Hmm it sounds like way too much was trying to get crammed into this book. The overuse of horny would def. annoy me. It’s such a juvenile word in most cases. Sounds like it had a lot of potential but ended up being way too slow paced and annoying. I usually love these kinds of stories but they do have to be executed well. Also LOL at the part about the cover. It really is only 2 lines. When I looked quickly I thought it was an envelope >.<
    Giselle recently posted…Review: Codename Zero by Chris RylanderMy Profile

  8. Melliane says:

    well it’s maybe not for me… But I smiled while reading your review. I can understand when books are weird, you’re just trying to figure how this is possible. It’s like that for me as well. Well I admit that the cover is also strange. Sorry it wasn’t for you.
    Melliane recently posted…Something More Than Night by Ian TregillisMy Profile

  9. This sounds like it has very specific sort of audience. I’m not sure I’d be it, but it does sounds quite interesting! Pacing is a big one for me though. I usually get quite bored if things move too slowly, so I don’t know if this one will work for me. It’s a shame it wasn’t much your cup of tea either, but I’m glad you thought it was unique. πŸ™‚
    Sam @ Realm of Fiction recently posted…Review: Secret by Brigid KemmererMy Profile

  10. I really don’t think this is for me. I like what the author is trying to do, but I feel as if the execution wouldn’t rest too well with me, which is unfortunate. Thanks for such an honest review, Mel!
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Just Another…Book Crush (#11): Cruel Beauty by Rosamund HodgeMy Profile

  11. This book definitely sounds weird and I’m sorry that it wasn’t the good kind of weird. I would definitely be a little unnerved by the main character and also the pacing sounds like it was too slow. I’d definitely be annoyed if the pacing was as slow as you described it, but fantastic review, Mellybean! <33
    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted…The Agent’s Daughter by Ron Corriveau Tour StopMy Profile

  12. Olivia says:

    Yeah that sounds a little (lot) weird. I can see why you wouldn’t like it. So many people I follow had it on most anticipated books lists though! Guess we’d better stick to just being weird ourselves.
    Olivia recently posted…Article 5 Trilogy ReviewMy Profile

  13. You’re right, sometimes weird CAN be good. it sounds like this one might be a bit too slow and all over the place for me though. I do need to read something by this author though!!
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Mini Movie Review: Saving Mr. BanksMy Profile

  14. Alise says:

    Honestly I think the only reason this one even captured my attention in the first place is that crazy cover. Baha, love the stages of weird because it’s so true. I run into a lot of WTF weird books xD And you probably already know I hate slow books! Great review πŸ™‚
    Alise recently posted…Review: Poison by Bridget ZinnMy Profile

  15. Emily Mead says:

    I like the sound of the blurb – like there’s a lot going on. But I’m with you on the cover. And I’m not really a fan of too-much-information, so I might give this one a miss.
    Emily Mead recently posted…Shift by Em Bailey – A Deliciously Creepy ReadMy Profile

  16. Candace says:

    I’ve been anxious to see reviews of this one, it seems like EVERYONE got it but I hadn’t heard anything yet. I love male POV but am on the fence about when they very sexual. I know boys think about that a lot, but it can be annoying. Really, it all depends on the voice. Honestly, I’m a bit curious after reading that short bit you posted. I think it’s interesting getting into a guys head. I’m not sure if I’d like it, but I think it’s one I should definitely at least try.
    Candace recently posted…Guest Post & Giveaway: Joss Landry with Mirror DeepMy Profile

  17. Really dislike the cover as well – definitely very quirky, but it’s not good when you don’t understand the meaning behind the quirk. And I’m all for coming-of-age stories, but this story just seems completely disinteresting to me. And by the sounds of it, the protagonist seems unrelatable for me. His horniness puts me off a lot, and I don’t think I’d like to be in his head. Wonderful review Mel!
    Joy @ Thoughts By J recently posted…‘The Fault in Our Stars’ TrailerMy Profile

  18. Haha you are right, this indeed does sound like a weird book! The guy being horny all the time and thinking about weird things erm. Thanks hun for the review!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Launch Day Review: I Am Forever by Wynne Channing – Wise cracking & worshipping vampiresMy Profile

  19. Aimee says:

    I’m really into bizarre, weird things. I don’t know, though. Austin sounds like a really horny freaky guy, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to take him seriously.

    Great review, Melanie!:D
    Aimee recently posted…That’s My Girl!: Mackenzie BishopMy Profile

  20. Lily B says:


    weird.. heh.. the cover is very simplistic I agree.
    Lily B recently posted…Review: Uninvited (Uninvited #1) by Sophie JordanMy Profile

  21. I’m probably going to skip this one. >_< I nearly requested it, because it does sound entertaining and I'm all for "weird" contemporaries…but slow? Ack. I can't stand sloooow. I could just be sleeping or something. This was a pretty epic review though. πŸ™‚ I love reading your reviews!!
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…Bird by Crystal Chan (OH the genius!)My Profile

  22. I have to admit, I thought this book was super weird, too. The author did a short guest post for us today which addressed something I thought was interesting, but I definitely think this is going to be a polarizing read.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Sexual Identity in Grasshopper Jungle: guest post + giveawayMy Profile

  23. I’ve seen mixed reviews on this one so far. I could tell early on that it wouldn’t be for me–I’m not overly interested in the subject matter in any regard though the weirdness is a tad interesting just to understand what it’s like. I do think I’ll skip this one though. Great review πŸ™‚
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…Interview with Michael O-Artist Behind the Lunar Chronicles Covers+International GiveawayMy Profile

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