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2011 – Nothing, by Janne Teller

January 10, 2011

“Nothing matters.”

“From the moment you are born, you start to die.”

“The Earth is 4.6 billion years old. You’ll live to be a maximum of one hundred. Life isn’t worth the bother!”

So says Pierre Anthon when he decides that there is no meaning to life, leaves the classroom, climbs a plum tree, and stays there. His friends and classmates cannot get him to come down, not even by pelting him with rocks. So to prove to him that there is a meaning to life, they set out to build a heap of meaning in an abandoned sawmill. But it soon becomes obvious that each person cannot give up what is most meaningful, so they begin to decide for one another what the others must give up. The pile is started with a lifetime’s collection of Dungeons & Dragons books, a fishing rod, a pair of green sandals, a pet hamster — but then, as each demand becomes more extreme, things start taking a very morbid twist, and the kids become ever more desperate to get Pierre Anthon down. And what if, after all these sacrifices, the pile is not meaningful enough?

A Lord of the Flies for the twenty-first century, Nothing is a visionary existential novel — about everything, and nothing — that will haunt you.

Post links to reviews of or your thoughts on this book in the comments.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 14, 2011 1:01 pm

    an excerpt from my review:

    I’ve read often that the writer’s job is to be cruel to his/her characters…well, Teller certainly abides by that formula. It would also come as no surprise to find people offended by at least one of the actions by the characters in this novel. I’m reminded of a time when a perturbed colleague tried to engage me in a debate about a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph which offended him: the crucifix submerged in a jar of urine. Teller’s novel can be perceived as just as evocative especially considering it is for the YA audience.

  2. July 11, 2011 3:44 pm

    The most disturbing book I’ve read in a long time, possibly ever. As soon as I read it I knew it had all the makings of a winner. Kids helped me see the parallels to Lord of the Flies. Here’s my review:

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