Required Author- Andrew Smith
Smith, A. (2014). Grasshopper jungle: a history. New York: Dutton Books.
Andrew Smith’s apocalyptic novel is set in Ealing, Iowa, where a now-deceased scientist’s mad experiments gain new life when thugs steal and drop a ball of glowing liquid that feeds on spilled blood and creates 6-foot-tall killer praying mantises. Robby and Austin discover an underground bunker from the 70s that unlocks a lot of secrets about these “Unstoppable Soldiers,” as the mantises are called. Readers will get caught up in the action as humans go mano a buggo against the green beasties. But the characterization and voice are stellar, too. First-person Austin really gets you inside the head of a confused kid who has strong feelings for both his best friend and his girlfriend.
Commentary and Text Connections:
Questions of sexuality, family, and religion are all in the forefront of the three teens’ minds throughout the story. But in the end, the reader is able to see that the story is actually a retelling of historical events by Austin. While the story holds characters that the reader will be able to connect to, the apocalyptic and fantasy aspects of the novel are the most prominent. The characters are living during a time when the world is coming to an end, and it seems as though they are the only people left. This situation causes the characters to struggle with questions and life decisions that will hopefully stirs the young readers who encounter the story.