Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Goodreads Review : Looking For Alaska

Looking for AlaskaLooking for Alaska by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Right up front, I’ll say I really enjoyed Looking For Alaska. My first John Green read came with a lot of expectations and I wasn’t disappointed. That’s a lot right there. I will also say, I came right off of reading The Perks of Being A Wallflower which was also a strong book and had some similarities to this one. There were times when I compared the two, but by the end, they both stand as their own books and I would recommend reading both.

I can’t help but read books with an eye for what I might have done differently. If I’m thinking of what I would do differently early on and frequently, that’s probably not a good sign. As long as I only come up with a few things, and mostly after I’ve read the whole story, that’s fine. That’s the case for this book. In my mind, I kept thinking the title of the book was Finding Alaska. I had to correct myself many times as I thought of the book, and I think I know why. I wanted to find out something about Alaska Young. Minor spoiler here, but something happens midway through the book that gets the characters looking for Alaska. The big question for me was, “Will they find what they’re looking for?” The answer is, basically, no, but the author got me to a level of acceptance about that by the end. Feeling what they felt was a key point of the book, and that was accomplished. We did learn something about her before the end, but it was easily guessed long before it was finally revealed.

This is not a book of happenings, it’s a book of character relationships and introspection. The characters are very well developed and the relationships are very believable. Look elsewhere for an adventure.

I will waste a little more space with a pet peeve of mine, something that started developing with Perks and has intensified with this book. Why do authors feel that in order to make their teenage characters interesting and deep they all have to be chain smokers? I’ve read so much about people smoking in these last few books I’ve got sympathetic emphysema. Obviously, people make bad choices in life and teenagers are especially apt to pick up bad habits without concern for long term effect. But come on. Couldn’t we do a little better as authors to set a healthier example for our readers and stop using smoking as a crutch to provide self-inflicted harm on our teenage characters to show how ‘invincible’ they believe they are? Early in the book, I was convinced one of the main characters was going to develop lung cancer before the book was finished.

I guess I’ll just have to wait for the sequel : Looking for a Tracheotomy

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Goodreads Review of The Perks of Being A Wallflower

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Dear Friend,

I wasn’t sure who to write this book review for, but I heard someone talking in the cafeteria about you and that you liked books, and although you don’t know me and I don’t really know you, except for what I heard in the cafeteria, I thought you might like to hear about this book anyway. It’s called The Perks of Being A Wallflower. I read somewhere that the author had great ‘voice’ and since I’m always interested in improving my writing ‘voice’ this sounded like a book I should read.
I know you are supposed to give out stars or thumbs up or things like that when doing a review, but I don’t really feel like that applies so I’m going to skip that part. I hope this doesn’t ruin your enjoyment of this review. Even when I do think about giving this book stars, I always want to give it fractional stars, like four and a half instead of five or just four. Some reviews do that and others don’t, and since I’m not sure which kind of review this is, I’m going to just leave all that up to someone else.
I think the author of this book did a lot of drugs, or does a lot of drugs. He likes to drop in names of books and songs, and if you don’t know anything about them, it makes you feel a little left out, or ignorant. I don’t think this is on purpose, but that’s what happens anyway. I also think he smokes and drinks, probably all while he’s writing. It’s on his mind a lot. Some of the best writers in history did this, so I guess that’s ok. I don’t really do any of them, so I wonder if I can be a great writer. People say, “There’s a first time for everything.” I’ve heard that before, so I can hope that can apply to me. The first great, sober writer. I’d like it if that could be possible.
I thought the last third of this book got slow. It started to feel infinite, but not in the standing-in-the-back-of-a-truck-in-a-tunnel kind of way. There was more drama in the first and second half than there was in the third, and it was a little bit of a letdown. It finished in a satisfying way, and I was glad to have read it when it was done, and I think that’s probably the best thing you can say about a book anyway. You may not agree.
There is a good twist at the end of this book, but by the time it comes around, things have slowed down so much, it doesn’t have the impact I think it could have. Also, I suspect the way a certain relationship ended was designed to allow for a sequel, which cheapens the whole thing a little in my opinion. I hope this last thought doesn’t discourage you from reading the book. It really was quite good.

Love Always,


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