By Andrew Smith
Published 2014 by Dutton Juvenile
Austin's life is about to get seriously weird. People in his hometown are somehow turning into giant praying mantises that want to do nothing but eat and mate. But his regular life doesn't just end because the world is going crazy - he's still trying to figure out his sexual orientation but now he has to also worry about escaping the giant praying mantises. Can he figure out a way to save himself - and maybe the world?
I heard about this book a lot before its release and was pleased to snag an ARC at Midwinter. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to read the book before its release date, but I read it over the summer and was blown away.
I've complained a handful of times about books I just don't get (I'm looking at you, Daniel Kraus). I imagine, for some people, this will be that kind of book. For me, though, definitely not. This book is probably one of the best books I read this year and I'm only sad that I can't recommend it highly enough.
This book is absolute insanity - it's about a mish-mash of things, many completely out of this world. It's the inside of a teenage boy's head right out there for everyone to see. It's the end of the world and the chaos that means. It's a B-movie with giant praying mantises and an homage to Porky's. It is probably the weirdest thing most people will read in any given year, but it also absolutely amazing. As usual, it's much more difficult for me to articulate my thoughts when I just full-out love a book than when I don't, so this review will probably not be terribly helpful to anyone.
Perhaps this book was suited to me because I love B-movies. I'm not so crazy about horny teenage boys (in fact, I didn't love Smith's Winger at least partly because of that), but this book is just brilliant. It's extraordinarily well-written - Smith zings from one topic to the next with only the most tangential connections, yet it never feels forced or confusing or pretentious. It just works. Amid all the craziness that is this novel, there are also some tender moments and some regular teenage confusion. It's a balance of the completely weird and the completely normal and I think Smith executes it perfectly (I actually was tempted to swear right there because that's how perfect I think it is). This book is unlike anything else out there right now and it's just good. Really, really flipping good. I loved the characters, I loved the crazy, I loved the mundane, I loved the randomness, I loved the ending. I just loved it.
Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy, which I will treasure for always now.