Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer. Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.

In this book, 23 people spontaneously combust. Possibly more, but from the list of people I have, at least 23 people exploded for no real reason.

This was such a strange but eloquent read. The story is told from the perspective of Mara Carlyle, an eighteen year old who just witnessed one of her classmates blow up. Basically, this story is exactly as it seems, people are exploding and no one can figure out why. The issue, it seems, is only effecting seniors at one Covington High School in New Jersey. After the first explosion, everyone freaks out (obviously) and the FBI are called in. Soon the number gets to 3 and its at epidemic stages. The federal government is involved at this point, and soon all the seniors are corralled and quarantined. They run tests, the president comes on via video and talks to everyone in their little tent house. Unsurprisingly, someone explodes and you are shown the foul mouth the president has.

The narration of this book was funny when it needed to be, and serious when it was required. It's written in almost a conversational tone, Mara is speaking directly to you so you get a very personal look at everything that is happening. There are some moments where Mara isn't the best person, but it's realistic, because a) when people start blowing up, you're not exactly looking at the bright side and b) real people aren't nice to everyone, all the time. It's just not possible. Mara is by far one of the most realistic character's I personally have ever read and I enjoyed her candor.

Obvisously, there is a bit of a deeper meaning to the story. I mean, it was an interesting story about exploding kids, but that's not really what it is about. The book ends in a way that I was mad about at first, but now I think is genius. The story wasn't about what was making kids explode, it was a metaphor (cue Augustus Waters). This story was about growing up, facing your fears, working towards something, whether that be and Ivy League school, or just getting up out of bed in the morning. Everyone had struggles and fears, and with this book, they are united. Everyone is struggling with the grief of losing their classmates, whether or not they actually liked them, and everyone is afraid they will be next. By the end of the story, you have half of the (remaining) student body claiming they are the Covington Curse. Everyone feels responsible because they thought something bad about someone once, or they did something and this is karma.

The story isn't about why people were combusting, although a lot of speculation occurs. It's about finding yourself, in the darkest, and strangest of times.

I loved the relationships Mara had with her parents and her best friend Tess. Her parents were actually present, a shock in many YA novels, and they were realistic. This book deals with more mature topics, drugs, sexual relations, etc. and her parents handled these things well, but realistically. They were understanding when they needed to be, but they also didn't let everything slide. Tess, while not always present in the story, was more on the straight and narrow, but she was there for Mara, even when she pushed her away.

One thing I didn't love about this book was the romance between Dylan and Mara. I just kinda felt like it came out of nowhere, like she thought he was this weird kid who she'd heard strange rumours about, but never actually talked to. And then all of a sudden, he sends her a text and boom, they were dating. I wouldn't call it insta-love, because there was never any chemistry, and while they said they loved each other, Mara didn't, not fully. So maybe this romance is okay, because it was meant to fail. But still, it felt like it was set up to succeed, so I had my hopes up. Truth be told, I'm not too sure a romance fit well in this book anyways, regardless of whether it was done well or not.

Overall, this was a very interesting read with a whip-smart, dark humoured narrator.  Highly recommend.