When I was younger, I was
consumed with the idea of monsters. I loved monster movies, monster
stories, monster toys, etc. I'm sure that if I had saved my writing from
my youth they would've been filled with monster stories or things about
monsters. From Godzilla to the Gremlins, monster stories attract me, so
picking this book up was a natural and I wasn't disappointed. This was
as much an extrapolation of what I was probably writing when I was a
kid: my friends and I the only thing standing between a monster and the
destruction of the world and that is clearly one of the indelible
reasons that I loved Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith so much.
Now calling this a monster book is an oversimplification of epic proportions. It's packed with themes and motifs I enjoy reading and writing about: love, the bonds between friends, what is means to be a friend, children paying for the sins/transgressions of their parents (especially fathers), a protagonist that is a writer and self discovery. Smith packs all of these things into between the neon green covers of this book with a voice that is charming, charismatic and very real. It reads like the history books the narrator discusses writing. (I wish that I had done that as a youth!) The voice kept me completely enthralled with what was happening in the story and made some of the repetitiveness a necessity as opposed to a distraction.
One of the most powerful aspects of this book that could very easily get over looked is the way Smith deftly connects so many threads together, weaving them into the story and not only showing us just how important history is, but how everything is ultimately connected. It might be an even more important theme to recognize than a lot of the other ones peppered into this story.
Another book that I'm going to "Sharpie" for my "Best of 2014" list.
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