Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
7 word summary: Two teens accidentally create giant mutant grasshoppers.
YA, science fiction, fantasy. Stand-alone novel. Share with ages 14+.
Best friends Austin and Robbie live in the middle of nowhere Iowa, smoke entirely too many cigarettes, and attend Lutheran school. When school bullies attack them for their sexuality – Robbie’s gay, Austin’s got a girlfriend but he’s confused – Robbie’s blood becomes fuel for a soon-to-be-released mutant strain from 1960’s experimentation. This strain takes over human bodies, creating huge praying mantises that do two things: eat (humans, of course) and breed. As much as the story is a fantasy, the focus is on the characters: Austin and Robbie and Shan (the girlfriend) are as realistic as teens come. Unlike anything ever written, Smith’s story is unbridled, creative storytelling at its best.