Summary: This intriguing tale by Andrew Smith is the story of three teenagers as they fight for their life in the upcoming apocalypse. The twist isn’t even that they were the ones that inadvertently brought doom to the world, but its what that doom is. Giant praying mantises, who were genetically engineered are out killing and mating. Even though certain doom is here, the three teens are stuck in somewhat of a love triangle. Main character Austin Szerba can’t decide if he has feelings for his girlfriend Shann Collins, or his best friend, Robbie Brees. Will these three teenagers overcome all odds and defeat the praying mantises, or will the mantises destroy all of mankind?
Strengths: This is by far, the strangest book I have ever read. But I loved every minute of it. This book follows the criteria for a science fiction novel so well. We begin with our three main characters. Never have I read about a trio of friends who are actually realistic. The main character, Austin, is in a love struggle between his best friend and girlfriend. And only a teenager can have so much focus on who he wants to have sex with when the whole world is being torn apart by praying mantises. We come to find out that this book is actually a written history of the end of the world written by Austin himself, which the author included to make this book seem very believable despite the fantasy elements.
Connections to Text: The development of Austin throughout the novel is well laid out. He is going through Havighurts stages of development when it comes to defining his appropriate sex role, in the case that he doesn’t know whether he is attracted to his guy friend or his girl friend. When looking at Maslows Hierarchy of Needs, Austin seems to be torn between all of them throughout the book. He begins by wanting Love, even though he is not sure from who, and then he goes down in the needs after the mantises have been released and is now more focused on safety.
Smith, A. (2014). Grasshopper jungle. New York: Dutton