Stuff for the Teen Age
Nothing by Janne Teller
Get ready for one of the darkest books I've seen written for YA readers.
Janne Teller's Nothing is the story of a group of eighth graders trying to find meaning in the world. Sounds pleasant enough, right?
In the middle of class Pierre Anthon stands up and declares that life is meaningless and therefore there is no point to care about anything: school, friends, family, nothing at all. With that he turns and walks out the door and climbs into a plum tree outside of the school house. His classmates are first annoyed, mainly with his taunts from above in the tree. They then become obsessed with showing him that there was meaning in the world by piling up all of the things that were meaningful to them. It started off normal enough, a favorite pair of shoes, an old Beatles tape, a comb and so on.
But after it is clear that the students cannot give up things that are truly meaningful, they start to chose for each other and threaten the ones that do not want to give it up. Things get more and more extreme, going down a surprisingly morbid road and the students become desperate for Pierre Anthon to get down from the tree and see what they gave up to find meaning.