Spontaneous opens on a “stunner” of a fall day at the beginning of Mara’s senior year of high school. On this particular day, Katelyn Ogden – a “sundress of a person” – blows up (literally) during third period pre-calc. While emotionally traumatic, Katelyn’s case is initially thought of as a one-off (because of course it is), but it’s not. As more seniors blow up the government, the press, and spectators show up to Mara’s New Jersey suburb, all with their own theories on why students in the senior class of Covinington High are spontaneously combusting (terrorism, drugs, government conspiracy). Mara’s fast-paced, wry and witty narration makes for a darkly humorous story of death, gore, friendship, and love (with some sex and drugs). While the book starts strong, and Mara is a fantastic character, it falters a bit around the half way point. For me the end got a bit driftless and existential, losing some of it’s beginning panache (but maybe that’s just what happens when your senior class appears to be cursed with seemingly random spontaneous combustion).

Lisa

 

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