Donna's Reviews > Nothing

Nothing by Janne Teller
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's review
Aug 23, 10

bookshelves: literary, teen
Read from August 19 to 22, 2010

This is one of those "shocking" books where kids rebel against societal norms and prove that they are capable of creating rules and doling out punishments just as harsh as anything their adult counterparts could imagine. I wasn't shocked, maybe because I'm already familiar with Lord of the Flies, Children of the Corn and The Butterfly Revolution, and other shocking tales like The Lottery.

What I found refreshing about it was what the kids were rebelling against. The trouble starts when 7th-grader Pierre Anthon announces that nothing matters and so nothing is worth doing, and then walks out of school. His classmates are determined to prove him wrong, because they can't stand thinking that what they've been raised to believe - that they must make something of themselves - is wrong.

If they'd just been able to shrug off Anthon and declare that if nothing matters, then he doesn't matter either; it would have ended there. Anthon continues to taunt them though, sitting in a plum tree along their route to school and hurling more existentialist ideas at them than they can handle. They begin to believe him, and to prove him wrong they decide to sacrifice things that matter to them to a pile of meaning that they plan to confront Anthon with. At first they give up things like favorite sandals that represent the consumerism that Anthon hais railed against. The sacrifices they make become more and more painful (stepping over the boundary of conventional moralty and continuing on) when really it's Anthon and his taunting that have meaning for them, all along.

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