Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book Review: Nothing by Janne Teller

Author: Janne Teller
Title: Nothing
Pages #226

Author Website

From the Website

A story about everything and nothing, a boy in a plum tree, and a 7th grade no longer sure that anything means anything.
"The novel asks the immense existential questions of the meaning of life. With its unusual, rhythmic and tightly composed language it is an amazing piece of work, which teasingly, grippingly and thrillingly depicts the quest of a group of children to proving to themselves and other people that something matters in life."  Information


"Pierre Anthon left school the day he found out that it was not worth doing anything as nothing mattered anyhow. The rest of us stayed behind. And even though the teachers carefully cleared up after Pierre Anthon in the class room as well as in our heads, a bit of Pierre Anthon remained within us. Perhaps this is why things later happened the way they did ..."
Thus begins the story of Pierre Anthon, a thirteen year old boy, who leaves school to sit in a plum tree and train for becoming part of nothing. "Everything begins just in order to end. The moment you were born you began to die, and that goes for everything else as well." Pierre Anthon shouts and continues: "The whole thing is just one immense play which is about pretending and about being best at exactly that."
Scared at the prospects that Pierre Anthon throws at them together with the ripening plums, his seventh grade class mates set out on a desperate quest for the meaning of life. This involves a closed saw mill, green sandals, a yellow bicycle, a pair of boxing gloves, the Danish flag, the hamster Oscarlille, a Jesus statue stolen from the church, little Ingrid’s crutches, six blue ponytails, a prayer rug, the coffin with Elise’s little brother, the head of the dog Cindarella, fame and a meaning found and lost and ... 

My Thoughts

Here I am one week after reading and finishing this novel finally typing up a review. I have not been able to actually take time to write about this novel because it was haunting my mind. It would not leave me. I was and in many ways still am speechless about this novel.

This is a deep read. It takes a mature reader or one who has a broad perspective of the world and events to grasp many things talked about in the novel. It is one where at first I was thinking, "Oh man, this is just going to be a boring story about some kids that all turns out happy in the end.". I was so completely wrong and am still not sure how to describe my thoughts. 

It is a philosophical read in the sense that it challenges your outlook on life because even though I disagree with Pierre in nothing matters it was hard to argue his rationale many times throughout this story and even now. I am not negative or depressed, but I had to stop several times and ponder what I was reading.

It also has a Lord of the Flies vibe to it in the actions of the other kids who are trying to prove worth in the world by sacrificing things important to them. 

Okay, take my word for it that you need to read this book. It will challenge every thought you currently have and in a good way. This book is not for the faint of heart. There are some scenes that are brutal and honest so be aware of this.

This just barely touches the surface of the thoughts that I have, but not sure how else to explain. Read and let me know your thoughts.
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