SPONTANEOUS by Aaron Starmer
Kirkus Star


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A small New Jersey town is rocked by a disastrous phenomenon.

Mara Carlyle’s senior year is just beginning when Katelyn Ogden blows up—literally—during pre-calc. After the blood is cleaned off the walls and the class tries to move on, another student pops like a balloon during a therapy session. And then another combusts on the football field during the big game. The spontaneous combustions spread through the senior class in Mara’s suburban town, claiming kids of all colors, creeds, and class, seemingly sparing no one. No one but Mara, that is. As the white teen does her best to adapt to the increasingly absurd circumstances surrounding her, Starmer weaves a dark and hilarious tale that is unafraid to provoke laughs and chills in equal measure. Mara strikes the perfect balance between snark and smarts, providing quips and heart in equal measure. Her relationship with ice cream–truck–driving mystery boy Dylan, also white, deepens as their classmates burst all around them, and their love story is just as compelling as the mystery behind the explosions. The author has no trouble pushing these characters through hell, but the book reaches true greatness when readers see them on the other side and explore what’s left of them. Subplots involving an opportunistic scientist, a foulmouthed president, and a badass FBI agent push this one into must-read territory.

A blood-soaked, laugh-filled, tear-drenched, endlessly compelling read. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-525-42974-6
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2016


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