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Dutton Books for Young Readers 2016

Laugh out loud hilarious, Spontaneous will leave readers snorting with laughter.  Then they realize that they are laughing at a teenager  who just blew up. While that is not cause for laughter in a normal world, Starmer frames teens blowing up in such a comic way they it is instantly (spontaneously) hilarious. This kind of black comedy is rare in YA and done only by a few writers like Andrew Smith and Libba Bray.

When teens begin blowing up, Mara Carlyle  is present each time a classmate meets a  terrible demise. She has the record, in fact, of most teen blow-ups witnessed.  As time wears on, Mara treats it like combing her hair in the morning--just a part of life. Mara is glib, witty and chatty as the narrator and takes the reader on an entertaining journey through her senior year. While insensitive and blatant, Mara uses it as a coping mechanism against the blood and gore around her. Instead of breakups and make-ups, it's blow ups and clean ups. When it becomes obvious that kids from the senior class are blowing up and it's not some random thing that cannot be explained, the government gets involved and surrounds the city. The kids are now prisoners and hen lab rats. What is causing the senior class of Covington High to blow up?  Is it something they ingested? Something they took in an illegal drug? Did they pick up a parasite? Is it a medical condition?

The agent covering the case is FBI agent Carla Rosetti who Mara secretly admires, even striving to be her best buddy. The agent lets her know that the government may indeed be involved. She gives Mara and her  bff Tess burner phones to contact her if they find out anything about the case.

Spontaneous is enjoyable and entertaining although some may find the ending disappointing as the cause of the blowups is never addressed. Readers will have to write their own ending to this novel.

Recommended for laughs! High school grades 9-up. Profanity, lots of sex, bad behavior, alcohol, drugs, partying like it's 1999--hey, they are all blowing up, you know.

355 pages  9780525429746  Ages 14 and up

Recommended by:  Pamela Thompson, Library Media Specialist, Texas USA

See more of her recommendations:  http://booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com/

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