Kat's Reviews > Nothing

Nothing by Janne Teller
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's review
Nov 14, 11

bookshelves: audiobook, ya-fiction
Read in October, 2011

Wow. This creepy tale stays with you. I listened to the audiobook during my daily commute over the course of a few days, and this was one of those books where every night I felt compelled to tell my husband what morbid new things had transpired in the story. Grendel, Lord of the Flies, The Lottery...These stories came to mind, but Nothing was uniquely its own: a strange tale of existentialism, loss of innocence, mob mentality, etc.

The story centers around a class of 7th year Danish students that have all grown up together in a small town. Pierre Anthon climbs a tree one day and decides that he's never coming down because life is meaningless. Every day as the students walk to and from school, he pelts them with apples and shouts at them to abandon all hope. As the students get increasingly aggravated and internally-conflicted, they decide that they are going to build Pierre Anthon a pile of "Meaning" to prove him (and really, themselves) wrong. As they individually begin to add articles of "meaning" to the heap, the process evolves into a sick game where each kid picks a classmate of their choice and tells them what they must put into the pile. The ante is upped in each round, with each request becoming increasingly dark and twisted as the kids react with spite over sacrificing things that they hold dear. Nothing is held sacred, and it's hard not to be mortified with how far things end up going. Meanwhile, it's a fascinating philosophical exploration of the subjective meaning of "meaning".
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