Sunday, September 11, 2016

Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

  • Release Date: August 23, 2016
  • Pages:368
  • Genre: Contemporary-ish
  • Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin)

This book probably had the easiest elevator pitch ever; students at a New Jersey high school start spontaneously combusting. The entire town, and eventually the entire world start looking for answers including senior class member Mara Carlyle, the snarky ,foul-mouthed, irreverent narrator who takes us through this story.

I have read a lot of weird YA. I’m talking giant man eating grasshopper YA and girls-drink-bat-and-sees-future-anti-feminist hellscape weird. But this book takes the Kafkaesque cake.

I was so morbidly curious about this book after hearing about it a BEA because I wanted to see how they handled the combustion. Do the students go poof gone or it is something more gruesome ? Well, let me put it this way, when it first happens people assume it was a suicide bomb. So, it mentions blood but it never gets too gross. Starmer focuses more on how students react to what is...left over.

Jess predicted this book would get a lot of John Green buzz, because of the blurb on the cover but let me tell you; This ain’t no John Green book. There is no manic pixie dream person or earnest contemplation about the meaningfulness of it all. Our narrator is what you would call an unlikeable female character. She spends a good portion of this book abusing substances, judging people and making fun of the combustion.

Speaking of which,this books also feels like older YA to me. There is a non fade to black sex scene, lots of drug use and a lot of cursing. Like if this was a movie it would be rated R. I just want to note that because I know some people don’t like all that in there YA.

I honestly can’t say if I liked this or not. I was definitely hooked because this book just has a great tension as it goes from omg someone just blew up to why does this keep happening to how does it keep happening and the entire town develops this doomsday paranoia and the fear that increases with each combustion.


The ending of this book left me kind of cold. I saw this book in Target (because of course the YA written by a dude is in Target) to see if the ending was different than the ARC and it wasn’t. There is no clean and tidy resolution and I feel like that could be frustrating for some readers (i.e. ME).

Aaron Starmer is keeping YA weird with this raucous YA about what happens when everyone around you starts blowing up.

*ARC received at BEA

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