Grasshopper Jungle is a weird book. I mean, it's strange enough to be stuck inside a teenage boy's head, but that really didn't have too much to do with the weirdness of the book. Giant insects taking over the world was different, too, but it's not really why I'm saying this. Grasshopper Jungle is a mindfuck of a book because of manner in which the end of the world is told to us.
The writing of Grasshopper Jungle is not bad by any stretch. It is the most uniquely written book that I've read in a while. Austin Szerba tells of the apocalypse in a very roundabout way, describing events that seemingly have nothing to do with what is going on in the story. The book is filled with these "coincidences", and the apocalypse does not even begin until about 30% of the way in to the book.
The first part of Grasshopper Jungle was used, instead, to show readers the complex relationship between Austin, his gay best friend Robby, and his girlfriend Shann. Austin has started questioning his sexuality because of his love for both Robby and Shann. He is conflicted by his fantasies of having a threesome with them. It may sound like a little much for a YA novel, the teenage years are when sexuality is explored. We get to see Austin sort through is feelings and discover himself in the face of the world ending.
The part of Grasshopper Jungle with the bugs is pretty gross, but definitely unique. How it began was most certainly strange, and the taking over of the bugs was a little more graphic than what I've seen in YA before. (Not a bad thing.) It made me think of a really campy B movie, which is a compliment. I was never tense or scared, but it was a fun ickfest.
Grasshopper Jungle is gross, weird, unique, and something that I think both teens and adults will love. I enjoyed the book thoroughly, and I will be reading Andrew Winger's past works.
- 3.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more
Don't you hate it when you're writing a review and you have this blank page glaring back at you. I've been having a staring contest with this review of The Sowing because I don't really quite know how I feel about it. The world-building is good, I guess the science works for me, and the writing is alright, but I lacked any sort of connection with the characters.
I have no idea why, but The Sowing reminded me a bit of the movie, The Matrix. There's really nothing in common between the two except there are characters that are stuck in a crappy, post-apocalyptic world eating bad food. In the case of The Sowing, the comfortable gridfolks (the Sector elite) are the ones eating the vitamin gloop and the Resistance people are making due with their farms and hunting. Yes, that is a completely random non-comparison, but that's where my brain was. There was nothing really unique here - it read like a dome novel without the dome. (If there was a dome, I completely missed it.)
Some of the sciencey bits went over my head, but that is to be expected as I am neither an engineer or a geneticist. I like to have fancy big words and ideas thrown at me, but not much is going to sink in. I haven't had a biology class in over a decade, so there are really only two words that I have that are remotely acquainted with genetics are "clone" and "photosynthesis" (which has nothing much to do with genetics at all, I suspect). There's not a Michael Crichton level of science that will make you either feel like a rock star NASA scientist or a colossal dummy, but there is enough that you won't be left feeling that All The Things were made up.
I guess now is the time to say it - I got a little bored while I was reading The Sowing. I forget sometimes how important it is to have any sort of connection with the characters, and I did not after the first few pages. The prologue is told from Tai Alexander's point of view, leading up to her murder. I was more attached to Tai in her three and a half pages than I was with Vale or Remy after reading about them for the whole book. They aren't bad characters or anything, but there was just something missing. I will say that I liked Vale better out of the two (the story is told from his and Remy's alternating viewpoints) because he did undergo some changes as a character.
While The Sowing wasn't something that thrilled me, it was still an okay book. The Makansi ladies are authors well worth watching, and hopefully I'll get more out of the upcoming sequel, The Reaping. (I do intend to read it.)
- 2.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me....more
Free to Fall is Lauren Miller's second young adult, following last year's Parallel. (You can read my review of it HERE.) It is set approximately sixteen years in the future and is a great piece of speculative fiction. Free to Fall follows Rory Vaughn as she heads off to an elite prep school that guarantees admittance to the best colleges and successful careers after graduation.
Rory is a character that I found to be very relatable and realistic. She is someone who puts success in education above everything else and really has only one friend, Beck. Like teenagers nowadays with their mobile phones and tablets, Rory is constantly on it and always has it on her person. However, she depends on the Lux application on her Gnosis device for everything. It lets her know where she should eat, how long she should study, etc. However, once she met tattooed, hot guy, North, at a random coffee shop that she found with her roomie and new friend, Hershey. As Rory's relationship progressed with North, she started drifting away from her dependence on Lux.
Plotwise, there is a lot going in Free to Fall. The book shows us what society can and will become if we stay dependent upon our computers and handhelds in every aspect of our everyday lives. In addition to that, Free to Fall gives us conspiracy theories, secret societies, love, betrayal, and self-discovery. They all worked well together because it was a long book (450+ pages), but it never felt that long or dragged. The action of the various plot aspects never had me on edge, yet I was never bored.
I think Free to Fall is a strong second novel for Miller and something that will appeal to a lot of readers. While it is set in the future and technically science fiction, it reads like a contemporary novel. Miller is an author that I have my eye on because I've enjoyed both of her books.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own. ...more