Book Rave contender – Nothing by Janne Teller

Greetings fellow Oyaners, Oyanians, & Oyanimaniacs. We have talked in the past about posting potential Book Rave contenders on this site so we can comment on them. I’ll get things started with a book that was mentioned at the last OYAN meeting as a contender. Please feel free to comment if you have read it and rate it on a scale of one to five. I’m going to include a review that was up on my blog a while back too. Others can post their own Book Rave candidates or send Ian or I a message if you want us to post a book for everyone’s consideration.

Nothing by Janne Teller
Danish author, Janne Teller puts the “eak” in bleak, with her novel Nothing. She tells the tale of a class of middle school students who set out to prove to one of their classmates that there is meaning in the world after that student climbs a tree and declares that life means “nothing”, so there is no need to go to school or do anything else. The class decides to build a pile of meaning out in the woods to prove that there is meaning. One by one, students put a treasured item on the pile and then tells another person to add a specific possession to the pile. As the students put increasingly more precious things on the pile, they demand increasingly more precious and important items from the next person. This is definitely a game where you want to go first.

I’d like to say that this story had some unexpected twists, but it goes just where you think it will if you’ve seen many dark European films. The depravity of the kids gets pushed further and further and not one of them makes a move to stop it. The fact that such horrible things go on and none of these children’s parents wise up to what is going on was too much for me to believe. I know the author is trying to make a point about existentialism and the story reads almost like a parable, so maybe i shouldn’t hold it to a high standard of realism, but the absence of parental awareness is too great of a leap for me to make. I don’t see myself recommending this book to many teens, but it would be interesting to hear what teens think of it. My lens is skewed by my years and being a parent. A teen may see the book differently.

Mark R – Cedar Mill Community Library

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