The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets Revenge of the Nerds in this tale of a teen misfit who seeks to take down the bro next door, but ends up falling for his enemy’s sister and uncovering difficult truths about his family in the process.
Tom Grendel lives a quiet life—writing in his notebooks, mowing lawns for his elderly neighbors, and pining for Willow, a girl next door who rejects the “manic-pixie-dream” label. But when Willow’s brother, Rex (the bro-iest bro ever to don a jockstrap), starts throwing wild parties, the idyllic senior citizens’ community where they live is transformed into a war zone. Tom is rightfully pissed—his dad is an Iraq vet, and the noise from the parties triggers his PTSD—so he comes up with a plan to end the parties for good. But of course, it’s not that simple.
One retaliation leads to another, and things quickly escalate out of control, driving Tom and Willow apart, even as the parties continue unabated. Add to that an angsty existential crisis born of selectively reading his sister’s Philosophy 101 coursework, a botched break-in at an artisanal pig farm, and ten years of unresolved baggage stemming from his mother’s death . . . and the question isn’t so much whether Tom Grendel will win the day and get the girl, but whether he’ll survive intact.
"Deep and uproarious all at once . . . A clever spin on a weighty classic." —Kirkus, starred review
"An outstanding YA novel balancing comedy with substantial themes of love, death, and healing." —SLJ, starred review
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
If you enjoy a good revenge plot, you’ll love A. E. Kaplan’s young adult novel: a reworked Beowulf for the modern age. It tells the story of Tom Grendel, who wages war against a noisy neighbor while trying to win his dream girl. Though Grendel is sensitive and delightfully mature at times—his dedication to managing his father’s PTSD is heartbreaking—he’s not above juvenile retaliation, nor is he immune to the heartache of first love. A comical snapshot of teen angst, Kaplan’s book is beautifully written with enough pathos and humor to keep you hooked until the last word.
Debut author Kaplan uses the epic poem "Beowulf" as inspiration for a clever, heartfelt story about teen angst, memory, and family. Seventeen-year-old Tom Grendel's life in Masonberg, Va., is far from perfect. His mother died from a stroke when he was nine, and his father returned from Iraq with an untreated case of PTSD. When Tom's elderly neighbors leave their home to their niece and her two children, Rex and Willow, things get really bad. Kaplan draws loose parallels between the poem and Tom's growing feud with Rex, who throws a series of raging parties. Finding the late-night keggers unbearable, Tom's father accepts an assignment hundreds of miles away, and Tom fearing for his father's sanity takes action. The subsequent prank war escalates with the arrival of Rex's older cousin, Wolf. Kaplan successfully reimagines Grendel in a sympathetic and modestly heroic light, as he fights a giant jerk and wins the heart of a girl with help from a loyal best friend and an older sister who takes charge. Ages 12 up.
Best book ever
Perfect depiction of teen life (coming from a teenager) and great story to read overall