Grendel's Guide to Love and War

To me, Grendel's Guide To Love and War did not make that much of an impact. I felt that this book had potential to be an amazing story, especially after reading the back, but the way the author wrote this just disappointed me. Specifically, the romance between Grendel and his love interest, Willow. I didn't find Willow to be a very likable character and she didn't make that much of an impact. However, I did like the feud between Grendel and the party animals, Wolf and Rex. Their prank war was sparked after Grendel tried to get them to stop disturbing his dad. Wolf and Rex's actions caused me to deeply empathize with Grendel, which the story engaging. All in all, this book isn't one of the best stories I've read, but it also isn't the worst.

Review by Sophie G.

After reading Grendel's Guide to Love and War I was a little disappointed. I had read another book that seemed similar to it, called Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, which was very good. However, I was let down when I realized that this novel by A. E. Kaplan was nothing like it. To begin, the novel was unrealistic, cheesy, and boring. The main character Grendel, complains through out the book about how no one understands him and feels like he is encased in a shell of cement, so that no one can get in and see the "true him." To me, this reads as the author trying and failing to be deep. There are a lot of other bad, angsty metaphors hidden inside the book. At one point, a character even compares herself to an egg, the yolk representing all the hate seeping out of her. It was supposed to be a serious scene, but only made me laugh. Also, Grendel has a complicated relationship with his father, who has PTSD. This could've been a very interesting and tragic plot device, if it were not for the way the author used it. At a party, Grendel gets angry when a kid starts making fun of his dad for being a Vet, and shouts at him "It's not my fault that my dad got blown up!" Not only is this unrealistic, but also insensitive. Finally, the book was pretty slow and uninteresting. It didn't do a good job of capturing my attention. Overall, I would give this book only 1 or 2 stars. 

Review by Eva V.

Rate: 1/5 Stars
A.E. Kaplan's Grendel's Guide to Love and War is quite possibly the most boring book I have ever read. For the first 100 or so pages, the plot moves unbearably slowly. Afterwards, the reader is introduced to Willow, the narrator Tom's love interest. While Tom may have grown excited at her arrival, the reader will feel anything but excitement and jubilation. The two have a very elementary relationship, which the young adult audience will not enjoy. The main character Tom is extremely underdeveloped by Kaplan. The reader does not learn who he is or even begin to understand why he feels the way he feels. Furthermore, the novel centers on the idea of mowing a lawn. Each chapter, Tom mows someone else's lawn and the reader is left struggling to uncover symbolism in the repeated element, which perhaps does not even exist. Kaplan also attempts to add a "broken family" element to the novel, through the introduction of Tom's father, a war veteran that is never home. However, these attempts at developing heart-clenching, devastating familial relationships fail miserably and readers are simply annoyed and bored by the Grendel family dynamic. Moreover, the issue/conflict that Tom faces in the novel is simply silly. The entire plot focuses on stopping Tom's childhood nemesis and brother to Willow, Rex, from throwing his loud parties. Neither interesting nor educational, this novel does not belong amongst the great literature and novels of the young adult genre. Unfortunately, I would not recommend this book.

Review by Amasha J.


Grendel’s Guide to Love and War written by A.E. Kaplan  ????

            This book was quite enjoyable. When reading the tagline, “a tale of rivalry, romance, and existential angst”, I assumed this would be very similar to any other cliche teen novel, but I was proved wrong. The main character Tom Grendel is very endearing, which shows through his heartfelt relationship with the elderly. His conflict with his veteran, PTSD father is interesting and something I never would have thought to put myself into, unless I read this book. You really sympathize for Tom, if not with Tom. The antagonists are extremely annoying and frustrating, but they help develop character. Tom’s love interest in this novel, Willow, is also likable too. Their relationship development is not terribly rushed and their romance does not overwhelm the book and the readers. However, some of the dialogue included is too deep and thoughtful to come out of a seventeen year old’s mouth and rivalry between Tom and his neighbor can come off as extremely childish and almost farfetched. Overall, I would recommend this book to someone if they were looking for a light hearted read, but as well as something with overarching themes that they take with them.

Review by: Jennifer L

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