Spontaneous

And as long as the world spins on, we can still dance. No matter who we are, we can always dance.

Title: Spontaneous

Author: Aaron Starmer

Series: Standalone

Publication: August 23rd 2016 by Dutton Books for Young Readers

Pages: 368

Source: Publisher in exchange for a honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

Mara Carlyle’s senior year is going as normally as could be expected, until—wa-bam!—fellow senior Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period pre-calc.

Katelyn is the first, but she won’t be the last teenager to blow up without warning or explanation. As the seniors continue to pop like balloons and the national eye turns to Mara’s suburban New Jersey hometown, the FBI rolls in and the search for a reason is on.

Whip-smart and blunt, Mara narrates the end of their world as she knows it while trying to make it to graduation in one piece. It’s 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 from the President of the United States.

Aaron Starmer rewrites the rulebook with Spontaneous. But beneath the outrageous is a ridiculously funny, super honest, and truly moving exemplar of the absurd and raw truths of being a teenager in the 21st century . . . and the heartache of saying goodbye.


Thoughts and Things:

Basically, and it was fantastic. Spontaneous was a surprise for me, I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. Generally, when things are promoted as being outrageously funny, they tend to disappoint in some way. Spontaneous, thankfully, was not one of those cases. It was wholly original, perfectly ridiculous, and the perfect emotional kickstart after midterms.

I adored Mara. I loved, loved, loved her and her no nonsense attitude about things. I have a huge soft spot for those characters that dish out sarcasm like the school cafeteria dishes out food poisoning. Mara’s snark was probably one of my favorite parts of the book, if I were to be perfectly honest. Yea, spontaneous combustion is awesome and terrifying, but nothing warms my heartstrings more than well-written sarcasm.

Here’s what happens when a guy blows up during your group therapy session that’s supposed to make you feel better about people blowing up. The group therapy session is officially canceled. You do not feel better.

There is a certain talent needed to put things so simply yet still generate a certain amount of feeling and understanding from the reader. That, my friends, is the beauty of sarcasm: it goes over half the audience’s head. It’s an invitation to the “I’m too cool for this shit” club, and it’s awesome. Long story short, deadpan sarcasm = forever on my favorites list.

Anyways, back to my regularly scheduled review.

The book is dark, wondrously so. It is a harrowing subject matter when you get to the grit of it. People are randomly exploding, people you know, and you could be next. There is no warning signs, so symptoms, etc, nothing. Mara, bless her, only adds to the overall darkness with her narration – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We need her sense of humor, otherwise this book would probably be way too morbid to be anything other than a horror novel.

Another thing I liked about this book, besides the obvious, was the development and deterioration of certain relationships. Things are uncertain. Do you patch up a falling out with someone because you don’t know if you’ll ever see them again? Do you focus on the here and now and try to enjoy what you have? What about your best friend? Do you detach yourself in hope it will hurt less if one of you explodes? While the circumstances are borderline ridiculous, the emotional impact and conflict is grounded and real. It makes you think, it makes Mara think. Most of all, it makes you feel.

The one problem I had with this book isn’t even a real problem. I, personally, like figuring things out and having at least something of a concrete nature before the book takes its final bow – but Spontaneous sort of lacked in that department. Additionally, something minor, there are some obvious instances of trying to hard to write a young, female protagonist. I wouldn’t normally point this out, but as I think about it, it is becoming more and more of an issue. If you’re a guy writing from the point of view of a girl, you simply cannot impose your own thoughts into their narrative – you’re not a chick.

As she bent over and her hair brushed my face, I gave her a good sniff.

A little weird, I admit. But also informative.

Rosetti wore perfume. Nice perfume. Not that I expected her to smell like coffee and gunpowder, but it was surprising how subtle and soft her scent was. Undergarments were now something to wonder about. What manner of lace was rubbing up against her holsters?

Girl’s do not, to make a specific example, sniff other girl’s hair and then delve into the question of what undergarmets they are wearing. Sure, we sniff each other’s hair and say if it smells good and whatnot – we are weird like that – but there is a fine line between actual things teenage girls do, no matter how strange, and things guys think we do. Okay, rant over.

Don’t get me wrong here, folks, Spontaneous is fantastic. Spontaneous is a unique, gut bursting, explosion of a book and I am so glad I got to read it. If you’re looking for something funny, especially if you like dark humor as much as I do, you have to read it. Filled with gruesome explosions, questions of friendship, whippity-snappy metaphors, and a protagonist who’s voice is impossible to ignore, Spontaneous is one book you will hate having to say goodbye to.


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