Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

"I know it can be empowering to some, but I hate that word in all its forms. Survive. Survival. Survivor. Blah! So temporary and meaningless. 'Congratulations! You didn't die! At least not yet! But you will! Oh, trust us, you most certainly will!"

Spontaneous is a book that starts with a bang...literally. A member of the senior class explodes during pre-calc, just bursts into blood and little pieces. A second senior explodes soon after, then a third. The FBI gets involved, and theories of terrorist activity are thrown around. It's all a dead end because the kids have nothing in common. Boys or girls, all different races and body types, the only common denominator is that they were members of the senior class.

Our main character, Mara, is present for several of the explosions. She gets a mysterious text early in the crisis that reads:
You were there for both of them. That must have been invigorating.

So weird, right? The text turns out to have been from Dylan, a fellow senior with a serious reputation. There are two rumors about him: 1. He burned down the local convenience store and 2. He impregnated his ex-girlfriend with triplets. Mara and Dylan start to date; he clears up the rumors and takes her around in his dead father's ice cream truck. They are fairly cute together, though weirdly so.

After so many explosions, no one is any closer to figuring out why the seniors are exploding or how to stop it. The government gathers them all in a tent to do experiments, even hunting down any seniors who skipped town, as well as kids who would have been in their class who moved away. The school had shut down permanently, with intentions to destroy the building. Classes were to resume in a vacant mall nearby, but the seniors weren't invited. Mara decides to take some initiative and set up a school so that her class can graduate. Her parents always phrased it like once they get their diplomas, the explosions will just stop. They manage to get some funding, hire a couple teachers, a lunch lady, and a janitor, and school is back in session.

Even the laziest seniors start to realize that attending school is better than staying home all day. The classes are fun and interesting, the food is gourmet, and the class has become internet sensations. Explosions even stop...until they don't.

This book was pretty funny, pretty weird, and pretty darn difficult for me to write about! Mara was funny and weird, but I thought she was sort of ridiculous when she decided that she caused the explosions. Her best friend was a cool, level-headed girl and I really liked her. I'm probably a terrible person, but the explosions were both really gross to read about and also kind of funny. The ending is more open than I would have preferred, and there were some lulls in the book that lost my attention, but it was still a stellar read.

I received my copy of Spontaneous from Edelweiss, courtesy of Dutton Books for Young Readers. It's available for purchase now.

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