March 18, 2002 12:00 PM

By Lisa Lerner

Mutant grasshoppers are invading suburbia, a suicide cult is promoting what it calls “happy endings,” and 14-year-old Edie Stein is stymied by the Electric Polyrubber Man competition, an event in her town’s Feminine Women of Conscience Pageant that requires seducing a male robot. Edie’s clumsy come-ons are a farce, since she has already fallen for the mystery girl across the street.

This is a gutsy and wildly imaginative first novel, a satirical coming-of-age tale set in a dystopic near future. It’s a freak show, but with human touches about the need for motherly approval and the ecstasy of first love. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24)

Bottom Line: Beautiful debut

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