Seventeen-year-old James Hoff is the world’s biggest pessimist. He doesn’t believe that all this “green” action is really going to do any good, that humans “have ravaged the planet with our insane lust and greed, everywhere leaving behind horrendous pollution, toxic waste, and lethal contamination” and we are all destined to die slow, agonizing deaths from SUV carbon monoxide poisoning. So what’s a cynical guy like him doing with an idealistic optimist like Sadie Kinnell? NOTHING, because philosophical and political differences finally led to their break-up at the end of sophomore year. But no matter how hard he tries to convince himself otherwise through the writing of heated English assignment manifestos that his teacher Mr. Cogweiller has no idea what to do with, James is still in love with Sadie. And as he grapples with what to do about the Sadie situation, how to call off his eighth grade sister’s horny best friend and whether or not he should accept his corporate dad’s offer of an evil, pollution-spewing car (“I just don’t want one. I don’t want to put gas in it, I don’t want to insure it, I don’t want to park it, I don’t want to look at it. If I am the first teenager in the world to refuse a car, so be it.”), a funny thing happens. James grows a conscience and suddenly Sadie’s point of view starts making a lot more sense. But is it too late for this gloomy Gus to turn over a new (green) leaf? Part angsty “dude” lit. and part angry meditation on the sad state of the environment, Destroy All Cars is one teen’s timely, comic take on love, life and ecology. Blake Nelson is one of my fav authors because he writes some of the smartest and most realistic guy characters in YA lit. Plus his dry, deadpan delivery never gets old and often leaves me smirking at statements like this one from James: “Because I have cut holes in my sweater and have been seen reading books in the cafeteria, I have declared myself to be some sort of fringe, radical, intellectual type. Now I must face the consequences.” Ha! A great companion read to this book.
Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson