Review: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Thursday, March 20, 2014
Why I chose this book: 
There was a lot of buzz surrounding this book before its release. Two boys falling in love during a grasshopper apocalypse? What author could pull off such a bizarre story and make it good? The questions rumbled across the internet as the release date loomed further. One of my goals this year was to try and read more LGBTQ lit, and this book piqued my curiosity as well as helped me achieve my goal. 

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile 
Publish Date: February 11th, 2014
Format: Hardback
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult, LGBTQ

Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.

To make matters worse, Austin's hormones are totally oblivious; they don't care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He's stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann. Ultimately, it's up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition. (Goodreads)

3 Things You Need to Know:

1. You will love this book or hate it. No in-between. This book is so blatantly absurd, offensive, and sexual that it is a love it or hate it type of book. I rarely get offended in books and a few lines even made me raise my eyebrows. The “I don’t care” attitude that is heavy throughout the book is reflected in the male protagonist Austin. While Austin is a teenage boy, he is introspective to the point of selfishness and documents every minute of his life. You, as the reader, either love him or hate him.  
I enjoyed the character of Austin, because despite his attempts to do the right thing, he still could not settle his indecisive heart. Austin is a boy that does not filter his thoughts. I also enjoyed that Austin sees life through the filter of sex, rather than the other way around. Truly a teenage boy through and through. Smith highlights teenage love in a very no-frills and realistic way, making the dreaminess of it all go to the wayside.  

2. The writing style is glorious and wordy. Initially, I was enchanted by the wordy, overarching style of Smith’s writing. It was vey similar to Vonnegut or Salinger, but with an apocalyptic twist. Through Austin, Smith ties all the stories and experiences together, reminding us that the human condition relies on relationships and connection. Austin visits the lineage of his family, who paved the way for his story to be told, and reminds the reader that the past comes with sacrifice, so the future can prosper. All in all, this helps Austin grow as a character (although the progression is so very slow). 

3. This book is just plain weird. This is where I was on the fence about the book as a whole. Parts of this book I read out loud to Amanda and she just looked at me blankly like, “What are you even reading?”. Parts of this book were just so fantastically gross and detestable that I wanted to skip a few pages so I could continue. Parts of this book contain scenes with grasshopper sex that I don’t even really want to talk about. (This book says the word 'balls' A LOT.) 

Final Thoughts: 
I honestly don’t know what to say. This book is one that stands all alone in the realm of weird YA lit. I enjoyed that Smith gave the read a genuine male bisexual character that didn’t contain any stereotypes that popular books have. I hated that I felt worn out after finishing this book. Judge for yourself, my friends. 

I gave this book three stars on Goodreads.


  1. LOL... I don't know if I'm intrigued or afraid. I haven't read much in the way of LGBTQ fiction, but I've read a few books with teen male protagonists, and they tend to be hit-or-miss for me. I recall one book called Evil? that was about a gay teenage boy and a fallen angel and accusations of masturbation (which was referred to in the book as "spilling"). While not the worst book I've ever read, it was surely one of the dumbest. But then, I don't think I was the intended audience.

    I think I'll probably give Grasshopper Jungle a pass. But I'm glad you got some enjoyment out of it. Thanks for the review!

  2. Honestly, this book sounds waaay too weird.... I'll probably hate it so I think it's better if I just skip this LGBT book.


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