NOTHING by Janne Teller is a dark and disturbing story of a group of Danish seventh graders who are forced to define “meaning.” When one of their classmates leaves school one day after he announces, “Nothing matters,” they pull together to find a way to prove he is wrong.
The class decides to use an abandoned sawmill to organize their project. At first, they add simple things to the Pile of Meaning by volunteering items, but soon the stakes are raised and people start choosing who goes next and what they have to put on top of the pile. It is frightening how quickly things escalate.
As the school year progresses and the Pile of Meaning grows higher, Pierre Anthon, the boy who started it all, continues to taunt the class. Soon, there is no going back and the worst possible thing happens.
NOTHING is grim. It is depressing and creepy. You definitely have to be in the right mood to read this story. At times, the translation seems a little awkward, but it doesn’t really take away from the book. I felt the need to read it, but not out of enjoyment. I felt the need to read so I could see how gruesome the sacrifices would get. At 240 pages, this is a quick read; so, if you don’t mind totally depressing stories, give it a try.