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Destroy All Cars


Destroy All Cars


James and Sadie Kinnell haven’t dated since sophomore year. James is disgusted by the “perfectness” that Sadie exudes on a daily basis and naturally finds fault with everything she does. While James and Sadie are both into saving the planet, they take different approaches in trying to accomplish this. James would rather destroy all the cars in the world to combat lame, weak consumers from killing the planet. It’s called walking people. Sadie, on the other hand, is all about raising awareness and getting people to sign petitions. Her latest efforts are focused on saving one of the last natural swampland ponds in the area. Of course James agrees to help since he has never really gotten over Sadie, despite the fact that she has dated that annoying Will Greer guy up until a few weeks ago. You can’t just say no to Sadie.

Like any teenage boy, James is trying to make sense of the whole business of love. He realizes there is no better way to learn than by responding to any signal a girl may give. Sure, there may have been a little kiss with an eighth grader on an ill-fated family vacation, but the movie date with a girl who waved at him once in the hallway was way better, right? Perhaps, though, Sadie still feels something for James like he has envisioned in his mind, among other things. Could getting back together be the answer to all of his problems?  

The future is always lurking behind you propelling you forward. When you’re a junior in high school, it sometimes slaps you in the face. Sadie has major plans for a big college, while James has resisted even writing for the school newspaper because it would take too much effort. James’s father offers to buy James a car if he goes to college, but has apparently missed the memo on how cars are ruining society. With so many decisions to make, James struggles to figure out where he fits in at school, in his family, in society, and with Sadie. Sometimes it would be easier to destroy things --- especially cars. 

To put it simply, DESTROY ALL CARS is a stunning work of art. At least that’s what James thinks. Blake Nelson has created a character who we can all relate to and root for. Where else can you probe the inner workings of a teenage boy who takes himself and life too seriously? I laughed throughout as James wandered from topic to topic and girl to girl only to end up hopelessly confused and clueless, yet utterly optimistic at what would happen next. What other reasons do you need for this fast and clever read?

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on May 1, 2009

Destroy All Cars
by Blake Nelson

  • Publication Date: February 1, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0545104750
  • ISBN-13: 9780545104753