Thursday, July 14, 2016
Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer
Release Date: August 23, 2016
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
“Katelyn Ogden was a lot of things, but she wasn’t particularly explosive, in any sense of the word.”
Mara Carlyle’s senior year at Covington High in suburban New Jersey is going on as normally as could be expected, until the day—wa-bam!—fellow senior Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period pre-calc. Katelyn is the first, but she won’t be the last senior to spontaneously combust without warning or explanation. The body count grows and the search is on for a reason—Terrorism! Drugs! Homosexuality! Government conspiracy!—while the seniors continue to pop like balloons.
Mara narrates the end of their world as she knows it with tell-it-like-it-is insight as she tries to make it to graduation in one piece through an explosive year punctuated by romance, quarantine, lifelong friendship, hallucinogenic mushrooms, bloggers, ice cream trucks, “Snooze Button™,” Bon Jovi, and the filthiest language you’ve ever heard the President of the United States use over Skype. (courtesy of Goodreads)
The best reason to read this book: Spontaneously Combusting Teens
This was one of those surprise finds at BEA. Definitely one of the most unique plot concepts I have ever read (right up there with Assassin Nuns of Grave Mercy and Apocalyptic Grasshoppers of Grasshopper Jungle). And it really was about that. Teens at Mara's high school blew up - repeatedly, violently, and grossly (is grossly even a word?)
My review of this book is really mixed. Honestly - I didn't like it. But at the same time it amused me and I wanted to see where it was going.
-The level of increasing panic, governmental intervention, chaos, helplessness, and rebellion seems surprisingly realistic if teens really did start combusting
-I got a kick out of Mara's dark humor
-Dylan - Mara's boyfriend initially appeared edgy, but was really sweet. And had some realistic flaws that revealed themselves over time.
-The book didn't shy away from describing the explosions and the ickiness. Which isn't necessarily nice to read, but if you're going to have spontaneously combusting characters, you might as well go all the way
-Did have some wise thoughts of the meaning of life and continuing on hidden amongst the madness
-This often struck me as an adult trying really hard to write how he feels like an edgy, cool teenager would think, which may not actually be realistic (but what do I know)
-I hated Mara. I'm all for unlikeable characters, but I don't think she was meant to be unlikeable. She was a horrific person. Some of her flaws seemed realistic, but others made her into a teenager I would not have liked
-Lots of drugs and alcohol references. And a surprisingly descriptive sex scene. I'm not opposed to any of these things in YA, but it felt overdone. Or maybe because it didn't serve a purpose
-The ending was totally fumbled. Either the author was trying to end on a super literary point (which clashed with most of the book's non-literaryness) or he just couldn't figure out what to do so he took the easy way out.