Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson

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.

4 thoughts on “Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson

  1. HA indeed! This sounds awesome. Blake Nelson is one of my favorites and I can’t wait to read this. Thanks for the great review.

  2. Hi Jen, just finished this book and saw on Goodreads your link to this review and I loved your review—-as usual!! James likes to rant and rave against society’s ills—hence the title—he wants all cars gone because of the damage they do,his father doesn’t understand him at all and wants to buy him a car for college. James is not even thinking of college. I liked the way the reader can see all of James’ anger, angst,humor and wisecracks. We see his Sadie, sweet, concerned, active and passionate about her causes. James’ writing is great, so many of the papers he submits to his teacher are hilarious and his teacher’s comments show he knows how to get masterpeices from James time and time again. Where his exgrilfriend Sadie is concerned, James is still totally in love with her, it is James’ anger, negativity and mean spirit that ended their relationship before, but time has passed, James sees an opening when Sadie and her current boyrfiend break up and even though he crashed and burned before, James knows he will ineveitably be with Sadie again. But how will Sadie & James be, how will James be when he is with Sadie? Totally different from Paranoid Park, but I enjoy Blake Nelson’s books and he gets teens with all of their baggage.

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