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My Chemical Mountain

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  203 ratings  ·  69 reviews
The Outsiders meets Erin Brockovich meets Bridge to Terabithia in this high-octane drama. TIM THARP, author of The Spectacular Now, National Book Award finalist, calls My Chemical Mountain “A gritty, surprising story that confronts important personal and social issues head-on.”

Jason and his friends live for the rush of racing their dirt bikes on Chemical Mountain and swim
Hardcover, 182 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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Shannon Boudreau
SUMMARY: Three boys repress their fear and dive head-first into the thrills of landfill culture: breaking into abandoned buildings, speeding down landfills on their dirt bikes, and worse. Jason, the main character, blames a chemical company for his father’s death, and seeks revenge, but what can he really do against such a powerful enemy? The boys cope and lash out in surprising ways—Jason through his artwork, Charlie through upping the stakes of toxic exposure, and Cornpup through trying to ign ...more
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"We live by the best landfill ever. I flipped my dirt bike there once. Plus I've got a sketchbook full of uranium monsters. My friend Cornpup likes to show off the bumps on his back for a dollar. And Charlie, he'll drink red creek water on a dare." Shocking book, very intense. The characters explode off the page. ...more
Corina Vacco
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
One of my readers created this image, and I had to share! It was inspired by Jason's Freak Museum, and I thought the artist really captured the grotesque beauty of MY CHEMICAL MOUNTAIN. image for bookmark - Copy
I wrote a portion of this book at the foot of toxic landfill in Western New York. I was scared to be there, but I found my voice in the darkness and breathed life into the industrial yards. I hope Jason's story inspires you to find your voice and to fight for the things you love, even when you're afraid, eve
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three boys come of age in a town that has been destroyed by the local chemical company where everyone works. Tragic events happen that convince the boys that they need to fight back and save their town from the devastating effects (not only natural but family life) of the chemical company.
Michelle (In Libris Veritas)
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation

My Chemical Mountain is a novel that is really hard to accurately describe without focusing on one aspect more than the others. In fact I was asked twice in one day what the book was about and I had think on it. The simple answer: It’s about three boys who grow up in a factory and mill town where a chemical factory is slowly destroying their environment and their lives. The more difficult aspect to capture is the fa
Mary Summer
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I can't stop talking about this book. Ever since I read it, it's come up in conversation a dozen times. The content and themes are very relevant to our current environmental circumstances. It's an extreme version of what can happen if we stay as shortsighted as we are.

However, as gripping as the story itself is, what moved me most about this book were its characters. The boys in this story were incredibly real to me. I grew up with brothers, and reading this was like looking into my own childho
Stephanie Diaz
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is really different, in a good way. The world is so vivid and the characters are brilliantly distinct and unusual. Highly recommended!
Katherine Rothschild
What a beautiful way to tell the story of a town with a dumping problem: from the perspective of a kid who loves it, pollution and all. Vacco beautifully describes the tortured land and wildlife in this town where a chemical company has its headquarters, dumping in the river and piling gunk high on Chemical Mountain. Her teens, too, are tortured, each in his own way, by the town, and the chemical plant. But for all this, My Chemical Mountain is a book with a positive and spirited voice, not one ...more
Joyce Sweeney
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a powerful dystopia with a strong theme of friendship and loyalty. This book won the Delacorte Prize and it's no wonder. Corina Vacco has an amazing capacity to build a world that is too frighteningly like our own and to show us the human side of our destruction of the environment. ...more
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I would explain our world to him, but he would never understand. We cross a landfill on our way to school. We swim in creek water that smells like nail polish remover. Charlie can convert a third and twenty-six situation into a touchdown. I can create a world of uranium monsters and blind creek serpents on a sheet of blank paper. Cornpup can transform a pile of broken metal parts into a four-foot-tall robot. We are not fools. We are brave and brilliant.

My Chemical Mountain is a gorgeously writte
Audrey Graser
Aug 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Title: My Chemical Mountain
Author: Corina Vacco

Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Length: 192 pages

Original Publishing Date: June 11th, 2013
Series: Standalone

Where I got it: ARC from ARCycling

Main characters: 3.5/5

I want to take a moment for a mini side-note before I start in on Jason and comment on what I will call the "Middle of the Road MC". Have you ever noticed that a lot of main characters tend to fall in between the two extremes of their best frien
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Frustration is afoot in this nation, and all over the world, as people and planet are facing the results of greed. This first novel from a young Green author has been a prize winner and the journalistic reviews are impressive.

Corina Vacco weaves in environmental and social issues in the sort of novel that reaches beyond it's YA age group to all adult readers, as it subtly takes hold of our interest and broadens our perspectives. The plot focuses on the viewpoint of the protagonist, Jason, a tee
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What's the What: Jason and his friends Charlie and Cornpup live in what most of us would consider a horrifying nightmare. With their houses situated next to giant industrial complexes, their world is rife with chemical sludge choking their creek, cavernous abandoned factories and immense mountains of waste. And while they rail against the BIG BAD CHEMICAL COMPANY that Jason feels is responsible for his father's death, he and his friends share a fierce connection with the toxic environment that h ...more
Jaime Sullivan
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The writing will blow you away. I was sent a galley for review, dismissed it as a post-apocalyptic story, and I almost didn’t read it…but then I took a peek at the first page, and I ended up reading it straight through in one night. It’s a lyrically written, contemporary novel, full of gorgeous prose describing the most toxic of surroundings, and I was just hooked.

The subject matter is timely AND approached in a fresh way. Vacco turns the world on its head and writes about a polluted town in a
A quick book under 200 pages that might fly higher with middle school readers than with high schoolers has a cast of three rising freshman boys living on the outskirts of industrial Buffalo in what seems to be a near future sort of dystopia. What these characters experience—a chemical company and other polluters knowingly and willfully destroying and poisoning Poxton’s blue-collar creeks and neighborhoods--is an object lesson and cautionary tale about what can happen to our environment if corpor ...more
Three boys live in a blue collar town at the base of a toxic landfill, by a creek contaminated with unknown hazardous waste from a large chemical company. One boys back is covered in cysts and he has a nasty rash that comes and goes. One of the other boys has a freak museum with neon green leeches, fish covered in tumors and wingless birds that he collects from the creek bank. One boy lost his father to an accident at the Chemical Plant that no one truly believes was an accident. These boys want ...more
Charles Markee
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Corina captures the voice of adolescent boys like no author I've read. Written in the first person, from Jason’s point-of-view, we live the crazy ideas, crazy acts and crazy thoughts of the three protagonists as they careen through their teens. The boys do what boys do, i.e. indulge in gross stuff, living life like they’re immortal. Why else would they swim in a creek that smells and is so polluted, it’s different colors at different times of the day.

Jason seethes in a kind of constant low-level
Jennifer Orr
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a surprising book for many reasons. One, I know Corina personally and know her incredible, amazing, visceral writing, so I knew this book was going to be good. Yet I was still blown away by this heartbreaking story of how a threesome of young boys deal with the destruction of their town and, in come cases, families by a polluting chemical company. At first, the mother in me was unnerved at how the boys embrace their environment, chemical sludge and all. How they revel in the pollution a ...more
Jul 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three teen boys face off against their town's chemically polluting industry, all for different reasons. The story is much more than some kind of EPA tome; it is an archetypal portrait of how teen boys think and act, which is much more complicated than many of us given them credit for.

The chemical company is the life of the town. It holds by its power of employment the survival of families. And families are suffering when the company is challenged or disrupted. I kept rooting for Erin Brokovich t
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
MY CHEMICAL MOUNTAIN is a thoroughly good book and the type of story that even reluctant readers will dive into. Jason, Charlie and Cornpup are three friends entering their freshman year in high school. The boys live in a small town decimated by industry in New York state. Not only are the pollution and illegal dumping from the factories taking their toll on the landscape and health of their town, but they're also taking their toll on the residents, physically and emotionally. The three friends ...more
Stephanie Dye
Sep 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jason doesn’t need anyone to understand why he and his friends still swim in the contaminated creek. His mom is the only person who’d care anyhow, and she’s too busy eating everything in sight. But if someone were to ever ask him, he’d say the industrial yards trigger an adrenaline rush that helps him forget how he’s been clashing with Charlie lately, how Cornpup’s health is getting worse, and how his own anger has been churning and grinding like a horrible machine.

The accident that killed his f
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: MG & YA
MY CHEMICAL MOUNTAIN, a Delacorte Press Prize winner for a debut YA, by Corina Vacco is a good companion book for middle-grade Newbery winner M.C. HIGGINS by Virginia Hamilton. The primary three male characters in MY CHEMICAL MOUNTAIN are 13 or 14; the time frame is prior to their freshman year. Everything in the book is age-appropriate for middle-grade readers (ages 8-12), yet is compelling and deep enough for YA readers (ages 13-18).

Both novels also address environmental issues, such as toxic
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My Chemical Mountain is a haunting story of a toxic town. Three best friends, on the verge of 9th grade, view this land as their playground. What I loved most about this book was the friendship between the three boys. Vacco does a beautiful job writing boys, each one uniquely drawn with layers and layers to their personalities. Secondly, is the environment. Vacco's wasteland is drawn at once horrible and at the same time, completely normal for the boys. It's a strong character and is both antago ...more
Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
I was looking for a short read--less than 200 pages--and this one didn't disappoint! The cover has an eerie photo of three guys facing a giant landfill, kinda depressing when you think about it. But Jason and his friends Charlie and Cornpup know how to have fun. Jason keeps a sketchbook of uranium monsters, Charlie will do anything crazy on a dare, and Cornpup is a geek inventor who charges people to see the weird bumps on his back. Aside from all the fun, Jason is on a mission of revenge agains ...more
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
My Chemical Mountain is a unique and interesting book--imagine a teen version of Erin Brockovich. The three best friends in this book are an odd, yet perfect match. Flashing back to when they were younger and talking about their current life as teenagers, it's great to see how their friendship has grown and continues to evolve. They all have an issue with their town being a toxic dump, but for different reasons, and in turn each has their own idea of how to get revenge against those who created ...more
Suzanne Rooyen
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a grim, gritty, dark world this story is set in and it isn't even a post-apocalyptic or dystopian future. For some industrial towns, this is what life (albeit somewhat exaggerated) is like. Very scary!

I loved this story. The all boy main cast, the emphasis on friendship instead of romance, the coming-of-age psychology - brilliant! This has a more MG than YA feel to it and I think it would appeal more to younger readers, especially boys around the 10-13 age. Even so, I loved the pollution mo
Elle Thornton
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Open to the first page of My Chemical Mountain and it's immediately apparent why author Corina Vacco won the Delacorte Prize for a first young adult novel: characters, dialogue and descriptions are brilliant–– sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking and always deeply real and deeply felt. Above all this book is so clearly a standout because of Vacco's incredible prose: her analogies are just amazing, the writing a passionate trip into another world. She uses the language of contamination, evil, ...more
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
My Chemical Mountain is a book about three young boys who live in a town that is practically drowning in toxic waste. Jason, and his friends Charlie and Cornpup, break into abandoned mills for fun and to blow off steam, that is until Jason makes a costly mistake. When they realize their mistake they try to cover it up but they just get into more trouble. That is when they are discovered by the industrial plant workers.

My favorite character is definitely Cornpup. Cornpup is a geeky kid who like
Nov 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book had an interesting concept, but was not well executed. Although it was a short read, there were many parts that seemed drawn out or unneccessary. In addition there were a lot of small conflicts that took away from the bigger picture as well as many loose ends that went unanswered. The motivation behind the boys wanting to take down Mareno Chem was not made explicitly clear. It was clearly causing problems in the town, but why did it take until now to be a big deal?
However, this book w
Amanda (awesome)
Great read, especially for budding environmentalists. I'm not one, but My Chemical Mountain has so much more to offer than just a takedown of polluters. The characters are well-developed, especially for such a short book. Vacco's writing is lushly detailed, full of angry, subversive imagery that--while undeniably grotesque--still draws the reader into the rich world she has created. But what I found most interesting about the book is its examination of how the things we love can hurt us, and eve ...more
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Corina Vacco gravitates toward strange, beautiful things—robots and gypsies, ghost towns in the middle of nowhere, curiosities shops in dark alleys, and mysterious, fog-shrouded islands. Writing is what keeps her heart beating.

She trespassed on toxic land and wrote the first draft of her debut novel, MY CHEMICAL MOUNTAIN, while parked in her car at the foot of a radioactive landfill—this book we

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