Thursday, May 15, 2014

REVIEW: Grasshopper Jungle - Andrew Smith

CAUTION: Reading this book has licensed me with the authority to use the word that is a more commonly used synonym for excrement.  You have been warned.

Austin Andrzej Szerba is his name. It is Polish. Since human beings are genetically predisposed to record history, (we believe it prevents us from doing dumber and dumber shit), Austin takes on his role as a historian recording the end of the world. 
There are things in here: babies with two heads, insects as big as refrigerators, God, the devil, limbless warriors, rocket ships, sex, diving bells, theft, wars, monsters, internal combustion engines, love, cigarettes, joy, bomb shelters, pizza and cruelty.
This is his history.

From the various sources of bookish information, I have concluded that the bookish population doesn’t know WHAT TO SAY ABOUT THIS BOOK. In this post, I shall be attempting something that resembles a review.

I mean, hello, HAVE YOU SEEN THE BLURB. I guess that itself vindicates the varied reactions this book got that ranges from “Holy Shit.” (Excrementum Sanctum) to WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS BOOK to I LOVED THIS.

Again, I shall be merely attempting.

The first coherent thought that my brain grasped at was “Austin Szerba is an extremely horny, confused Polish kid”. This point in itself is half the story. The other half is credited to the emergence of six feet tall bug-like creatures that do only two things: f*** and eat. Therefore, they bring the end of the world with them.
The writing is unadulterated, unedited, incoherent first hand witness account. A history textbook written by a horny teenager nearing Doomsday.

Excrementum Sanctum.

You know how if you pick up a book and read it, you’ll straightaway come to know the author is John Green? I have a feeling that if I pick up anything so much as a grocery list written by Smith, I’ll know.

This is a compliment.

This book has titles for each chapter. And not the one-word/poetic/thematic kind. The “Denny Drayton Has a Gun, Motherf*****” kind. The “The Right Kind Of Cigarettes to Smoke Just Before You Kill Something” kind. The completely awe-inspiring kind.

The characters introduced in this book come with their history. Robby and Shann come across t-totally. I have unashamedly fallen in love with Robby (who’s gay, so even if he existed in real life, I’d still be doomed to having a crush). You get introduced to Austin’s whole family tree, including the scandalous twigs.
This book constantly jumps back and forth in time. Not through the plot, per se, but by how we come to know certain things. Just like a history account – there is no suspense. The climax has already come and gone and this is a mere account.
And so I loved the way this book was written.

But not so much the story. You take away the writing, and I could probably tell the story in ten minutes or less. But then again, I don’t think this book was meant to be plot-intensive.
Actually, I don’t know what this was meant to be.

There is a whole lot of other shit. Shit we know couldn’t have happened in real life, but is tweaked into this book anyway. Shit about Nixon, Pope Paul VI, the Chinese prime minister Chou En-lai, and others.
This book also ponders over why history is always abbreviated. Why it’s never been written Winston Churchill took a shit sometimes. Shit like that.

Weird shit, this book. Weird plot, weirder writing. The first “weird” was said in a disapproving tone, the second “weird” was “hell, yeah”.

History lesson is over for today.

VERDICT: 3 stars

P.S.: Judge the book by its cover. I dare you to.

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