Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith is incredibly weird, but strangely enjoyable. Set in a very small fictional town in Iowa, U.S., Austin is a teenage boy who’s exploring his sexuality (so he thinks about sex a lot). Robby is his gay best friend and Shan is his girlfriend, and Austin is struggling with his feelings he has for them both. This is the first YA novel I’ve read that has a bi character and I hope it’s a sign that diversity in YA (and other) novels is growing.
Austin views himself as a historian and often declares “This is my history” and “It is the truth,” recording everything in notebooks for future generations. He recounts his family history as far back as his Polish great-great-great grandfather, which has played a direct role in shaping who he is. Also, his home town is where the apocalypse begins thanks to the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises (that are very hungry and horny).
While the writing style is repetitive to emphasise Austin’s position as historian, it isn’t quite to the point of being annoying, and it is very different from the usual YA apocalyptic fiction. It’s bizarre, often crude, and strangely compelling. It would be a hit for any teenage boy, and I thoroughly enjoyed it as a twenty-something woman. Not quite sure what that says about me, but if you’re looking for something quirky then I highly recommend it!