Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

I read this book in less than a day, but I’ve delayed posting the review because of the events in Manchester at the Arianna Grande concert. 

I lived in Manchester for many years; some of my friends and family still live there. I have been to lots of concerts, comedy nights and events at the M.E.N. Arena, and I was shocked and heartbroken about what happened on 23rd May 2017.  

That night really demonstrated that there is evil in the world, but also that the majority of people mean well, and are kind. The people of Manchester came together and showed the world their compassion, generosity and fortitude – giving out free food and services to those affected and the emergency services, putting strangers up for the night, and looking after lost children.  

I was actually reading Spontaneous when I found out about the attack, and it seemed like the most poorly timed coincidence. I’m not going to say anything more about that, but I thought it was important to add some context to my review.

From the blurb: 

Mara Carlyle’s senior year is proving to be a lot less exciting than she’d hoped until the day – KABAM! – Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period. Katelyn is the first, but she won’t be the last senior to explode without warning or explanation. The body count grows and the search is on for a reason, while the students continue to pop like balloons. But if bombs or terrorists or a government conspiracy aren’t to blame, what is? 


With the help of her oldest friend, her new boyfriend, a power ballad and a homemade disco ball, will Mara make it to graduation in one piece? It’s going to be one hell of a year, where the only test is how to stay alive, and where falling in love might be the worst thing you can do…

Mara is a typical high school senior – she loves her best friend, expanding her horizons (chemically and figuratively) and is looking forward to her senior year. Then students start spontaneously combusting.  

Mara is present for the first few incidents, and is initially under suspicion, but it soon becomes clear that something strange is happening to the seniors at Covington High School.  

At first they think it could be terrorism, but that’s quickly ruled out.  Then a pattern seems to emerge involving the kids know to do drugs, but this is also a dead end.  

Police, FBI, Navy SEALS and even the President get involved to try and figure out what is happening, but no one seems to know why students keep blowing up. All Mara can do is wait to see who is next…

This is actually a really funny, mildly worrying book about a girl trying to survive her last year at school. 

There is a lot of swearing, sex and drug use depicted in the book. It is not suitable for younger readers or the easily offended, but it is hilarious and strangely endearing. The story of these doomed high school students persevering against the odds is also quite uplifting. 

I gave it 3/5 on Goodreads because you never really get an answer about why this is happening.  I really hope there is a sequel to tie up all the loose threads. 

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Cheerio!

Stephani Xxx

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