Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Looking for Alaska

Have you ever just been irritated with a book? I'm sure you all have...but I actually made myself finish this one because it won the Printz award and so many bloggers have praised it. I, on the other hand, was bugged beyond belief and cannot say I enjoyed it in the least. For awhile there it reminded me of A Separate Piece, but I actually liked that book! Who knows what my problem was, hopefully I'll get over it soon!

Looking for Alaska by John Green is about strange friendships that unfortunately transpire into tragedy, but also into love between friends. Miles Halter, nicknamed Pudge by his new roommate, has moved from Florida to Alabama in order to attend Culver Creek Academy, a boarding school. He quickly makes friends with his roommate, who insists being called "The Colonel," over cigarettes that Miles really doesn't want to smoke, but does anyways. Through The Colonel, Miles also becomes friends with Takumi, a smart Korean boy, and Alaska, the most gorgeous girl he has ever seen. The year goes on with the group pulling different pranks against the students they've dubbed "The Weekend Warriors," as well as against their headmaster The Eagle.

The group all partake in a lot of smoking, a lot of sex, and a lot of drinking, which unfortunately leads to the demise of one of them. The aftermath of the tragedy is the second part of the book and just made the plot go downhill for me. I usually do not enjoy books with that much vulgarity anyways, but Green wrote it in a way that just made it ok for some reason. I still ended up not enjoying it, but others may. I definitely recommend this book not be read by children under 14.


Becky said...

Isn't it odd how just seeing your headline in my blog reader made me instinctively feel that you weren't going to like this one. Very odd indeed. Anyway, I love this novel. I do. I haven't read it since it won. I read it way back when when it wasn't so famous and praise-worthy. It wasn't the smoking. Or the drinking. Or the toothpaste scene that made me *like* it. It was the writing style. I really, really, really liked his description of the food. Especially the part about Southerners liking everything fried. And just the few pages where they talked about the glory of those burritos. It made it one-of-a-kind for me. Anyway, I guess I enjoyed the friendships. I didn't like the lazy-smoking-haze of it all. But I liked the people involved in those situations anyway. Perhaps my feelings would change if I were to reread it. Who knows.

Here's a concept. It just came to me. Maybe I liked it so much because I read it with no expectations. It wasn't an award winner. There was no hype (yet). There was no buzz. There was no one telling me that it was wonderful and oh-so-amazing. I just read it out of a pile of new books. I didn't expect it to be the-best-book-ever. I have often found that the more awards a book wins, the more praise and hype and whatall surrounding a book, the more critical I am of it. I look for reasons to dislike it. To say, "it wasn't that good. It wasn't that special." Anyway, I'm not saying that you're necessarily like that at all. But I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that I read like that. Like my opinion on Tamar. Or Invention of Hugo Cabret. Or Higher Power of Lucky. And don't even get me started on Octavian Nothing.

Anyway, I think expectations and a sense of timing--right time, right mood--does come into play when a person is reading.

Anyway, I respect your opinions and reviews. :)

Amanda said...

I definitely think you're right Becky. I probably do that with a lot of award winners...the same thing happened with Criss Cross. It won an award and therefore I picked it apart. That's why I now try and read so many things as soon as they come out, that way I'll be less judgmental.

I also agreed with what you said about different aspects of this particular book. I loved how Green described food...and made descriptions in general. I just felt that maybe it was too unrealistic for my liking or maybe I just didn't like reading about how life might be in a boarding school such as Culver Creek. Who knows why I didn't like it. I definitely respect your opinions and reviews as well. As I've said before, your blogs are my favorite!

Becky said...

Very true. Sometimes I think that some people don't see the *negative* aspects of award winners. That is why I try to read as many as I can before the awards are announced. That is also why I always, always stay away from 'official' review journals that give stars. If I know a book has been starred before I review it, I am more nit-picky with it. I can't help it. And if I read a book that has gotten a negative review, I almost always try to find the positive in it. Isn't that funny?

soleil said...

i didn't like A Separate Peace. it really really bothered me.

Becky said...

Soleil, I'm with you on A Separate Peace. It's one I'd 'unread' if I could.