Title: Nothing

Author: Janne Teller, translated by Martin Aitken

Summary: Seventh-grader Pierre Anthon announces to his classmates on the first day of school that nothing really matters, so nothing is worth doing. He promptly leaves class and climbs a plum tree where he remains indefinitely, every day taunting and raining down insults on his former friends, driving them to outrage and despair with his new philosophy. Something must be done to prove Pierre wrong, narrator Agnes and her peers decide: Life isn’t pointless. Each member of the class decides to sacrifice the thing that means the most to them, creating a “heap of meaning” in an abandoned sawmill in town. And since they are all friends, they all know what things hold the most meaning for each other…

At first the sacrifices are small: A pair of shoes, a fishing rod. But as each classmate raises the stakes on the person who comes after them, the items added to the pile become more personal, more intense, and more gruesome than the last, with devastating consequences that no one can foresee. This Printz-honor book, originally published in Denmark, takes a philosophical idea to a terrifyingly creepy conclusion. A great piece of psychological horror, this might be the most dangerous (in a good way) book I’ve read in a long, long time. 

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who are into intense fiction, especially ones that start off slow and build in excitement. Budding existentialists. Anyone interested in psychology, or who just like to have their minds warped. 

If you like this, try this: Shattering Glass by Gail Giles. Godless by Pete Hautman. Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian