“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.
Description taken from Goodreads.
I was having a perfectly normal, very non-explosive day when this book dropped like a bomb on me. A defective one.
It was rather disappointing.
I’ll make this easy: if you think there’s nothing remotely ridiculous about the concept of a book about teens spontaneously combusting left and right, then this is the book for you.
If not, then you probably shouldn’t be reading this one. Because that’s only the first hurdle that you’re forced to jump over on the path to liking Spontaneous.
The second is lack of plot. Basically nothing happens in this story. If you were to take away all of the jokes and all of the attempts at filling in character history, then what you’re pretty much left with is “kids get blown up and people try to find out why”. It’s made up of Mara’s observations in the wake of her classmates’ literal explosive episodes, which brings me to the third hurdle.
It just happens to be the #1 way to turn me off from a book. The narrator believing he or she is funnier or more clever than he or she actually is. Granted, this occurs more (at least for me) in MG than YA, but it’s equally contrived and irritating. Maybe even more, because you can excuse away why a middle-grader would be like that.
There are parts of Spontaneous that are funny. It’s snarky and insightful at times, but the reality is that only about 5% of the attempted jokes were actually laugh-worthy.
As previously noted, this is the book for someone. Not for me, but someone. Plenty of people have liked it, and this review ins’t anything against the author. I met him at BEA and he seemed like a perfectly great guy, but you’ve been warned. 1.5 stars.