This review doesn’t matter
(ATHENEUM BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS)
BY ANGEL LACLAUSTRA
SNN Staff Writer
When Nothing by Janne Teller came out, I was in elementary school in Mexico. It was an award-winning book (including an ALA Printz Honor) and had received a lot of positive reviews. But it wasn’t until I found out that it caused controversy in Denmark and was banned for a time that it caught my interest, and I decided to read it. I was 10 years old.
Since then Nothing has been a part of my library, and almost every year during the holidays I re-read it. Yes, it is that good.
The book is set in a small town in Denmark that remains unknown and it starts on the first day of school when 13-year-old Pierre Anthon stands up in the middle of class and claims that nothing matters. He then leaves school to sit in a plum tree. He sits in that tree for almost all the book.
His classmates, distraught that Pierre ever got to the conclusion that nothing in life matters, try to make him come down from the tree and reconsider his life views. But not even throwing rocks at him makes Pierre change his mind. The children become determined to prove to him that life has a meaning, and to do so they decide to give up things of importance and put them in a pile - the pile of matter, they call it.
The pile, which is in an abandoned garage, starts with superficial stuff, a pair of shoes or someone’s new bike. However, with time the kids get increasingly more desperate and start asking for more horrendous stuff from each other. A finger goes missing, people get hurt and, eventually, after months, someone tattles to her parents. The media goes insane, and eventually a museum tries to buy the pile.
The kids suffer no real consequences for their actions, even though someone lost his thumb, and so they decide to show Pierre the pile. Can you guess what happens next? Yes, Pierre decides that the pile also does not matter. They sold it too easily, he said. It has lost meaning. The children go insane, there’s a fire and someone dies – but I won’t tell you who.
It’s a short read, and I agree when some say that the book is rather bleak. But, I’m rather fond of existential nihilism. I enjoy the thought of nothing really mattering. Also, this book has more deeply cemented my fear of seventh graders. It is a short read and so good that I give it a 10/10.