I had about given up hope that something unique would pop out among the seemingly endless stream of dystopians, LGBTQ romance, and stories with unreliable narrators (Not that those aren't good; I've just read so many lately they're sort of blurring together).
I got my wish when Aaron Starmer's red-hot new novel, Spontaneous, crossed my desk. This book, with its sparky, snarky dialogue, fast-paced plot, and wholly original concept, is exactly the thing I was looking for.
Spontaneous is not, as you might think, about living life by making on-the-fly decisions (well, it sort of is). No, it's much more awesomely and hilariously twisted than that. Rather, Spontaneous is a story about the gross, but kind of fascinating, urban legend of Spontaneous Combustion. And this is exactly what is happening to the senior class of New Jersey's own Covington High.
Wait, you say. How can Spontaneous Combustion be hilarious? Isn't it kind of tragic and, well...creepy?
It is all that. But it's funny too. It's all in the delivery.
Spontaneous begins with just another day. It's early fall, not too long after school has started. Mara Carlyle is sitting in class, her mind not on the lecture, when Katelyn Ogden explodes. Literally. As in blood and guts everywhere. Other seniors (and it's just the seniors) soon follow suit. Could it be drugs? Ethnicity? Gender? Terrorists? None of these answers seem to fit. Nothing makes sense. As the body count continues to rise, the mystery deepens. And it's not long before the FBI gets involved. And YouTube. Of course. Because homemade videos about such an explosive (literally) senior class is way more entertaining than anything Netflix could dish up. Mara is a firecracker! She narrates this unique and gory mystery with her tongue firmly planted in her cheek. She is rude, she is crude (after all, she's from Jersey), and she is delightfully charming...in an in-your-face way. Add a bit of romance with the town's teddy bear bad-boy, and you've got yourself a solid winner (I mean, that date where they break into the old silo and slow dance to 80s' Monster Ballads...I was swooning). Seriously, how can you NOT love a book like this?!?
This one's pure gold. It's dynamite!
I absolutely recommend Spontaneous to anyone looking for something 100% original. There are some more mature situations and language, so this one may be better for an older audience. But overall, Spontaneous was awesome! Five stars. --AJB