Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nothing by Janne Teller

Thanks to Trisha of the Ya Ya Yas for the recommendation. Her review is here.

This, my friends, was an effing weird book. Enjoyable? Hmmm, I don’t think I could say that. I will say it was really well written and a totally compulsive read, no doubt about it, but enjoyable? I’m leaning to no. I am going to pass it on to my Mock Printz committee members because of the quality of the writing (a few strange quirks aside. Beside. Astride.) This is a story that will keep you thinking. I kind of loved it. It was a Lord of the Flies type of book, complete with a pig's head on a stick (don't take that as a literal example).

So the book…Well, the kids are in grade seven. An author’s note says that in Denmark this would mean they are 13 or 14, which makes a lot more sense than 11 or 12, believe me. Basically, a guy climbs into a tree because he has decided nothing matters. So if nothing has meaning, why do anything? Why indeed Pierre Anthon, why indeed?

This really bothers his friends, mostly because they think he’s really onto something. First they just try to pelt him with stones to get him to come down, but although he falls out of the tree, the next day he’s just back up there. So they decide that they have to prove to him that things do have meaning.

Dennis is first. He surrenders his D&D books, but he holds back some favorites. The group makes him sacrifice them all. This obviously leaves a spark of resentment, and since Dennis gets to pick who gives up what next, he makes sure that person gives up something near and dear to their heart too. Things escalate quickly, as you can imagine. It gets ugly people. Really, really ugly. Really, really, really, shockingly ugly.

The chapters are short and the author uses a device where sometimes only a single sentence is written on a page. It is like the author is telling us, “this is an important thing – so important I am only writing this one thing on this page.” It is super effective. It makes the sentence jump out at you and also manages to set the tone for the story.

Whew. I’m glad I’m done reading, but I can’t wait for my committee to read this so we can talk about it. The one thing I wonder? Didn't any adults notice Pierre Anthon was in a tree for like an entire year?!?

Book Source = Publisher copy


Trisha said...

Yep, not an enjoyable book, but one I'm glad I read.

joanna said...

I remember reading that review and wanting to read the book. A good brain melt is needed now and again. I'll have to keep it on my list.

Anonymous said...

Don't waste your time, it's garbage. Nothing to learn from it, despite the fact that children enjoy a good killing more than speaking about a problem

Patti said...

Well, I can't agree with that. I think it's a powerful exploration of social dynamics and social pressure.