Monday, August 01, 2016

Spontaneous: A Book Review

Isn't it difficult to be a teen these days? And isn't it just that much more difficult when your classmates start spontaneously combusting?

There's the premise for SPONTANEOUS by Aaron Starmer.

It's mad, yes, a premise so bizarre that you can't help but keep reading. Where can an author go with a story that opens with a young lady turning into a cloud of blood?

Against a backdrop of unexplained incidents in which students disappear in bloody explosions that come without warning, Mara Carlyle is navigating the typical world of American youth, in which friendships and cliques are all important. At least until students combust. That adds a whole new element to things.

The combustions add an element of uncertainty to life, when a person doesn't know why it's happening, or who will be next. As you'd expect, government experts come in to uncover the cause, but suspicions soon arise. Mara, her best friend, and her new boyfriend are all drawn in to a secretive investigation being conducted by a rogue FBI agent who has her own opinions on the cause and the source of the combusting.

Novels about teen angst abound, but by going absurd the author creates a different way to tell a story about friendship and the importance of relationships during trying times. This book is fresh and creative, a bit draggy at times but otherwise a very entertaining bit of prose.

Even if you don't care about the difficulties of being on the cusp of adulthood, heading off to university, the novel throws in a unique concern as far as getting go university is concerned. What if the characters that you've come to know have the greatest worry of all, that they won't make it to their graduation ceremony because everyone in the class seems to be combusting spontaneously? And there's no escaping the confines of the small town because somehow the government knows where all those senior-level students are hiding.

And thanks to Penguin Random House for the review copy. Much appreciated.

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