Book #24 of 2014: Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska is basically the exact same book as Paper Towns, except in a different setting and the characters have different names. That being said, I actually enjoyed this book – until the very end and John Green’s need to ruin a good thing with lots of forced depth and introspection. Also, did we have to read such detailed accounts of the kids smoking every couple of pages? Lame.

Miles “Pudge” Halter decides that he wants to go away to boarding school to find the Great Perhaps. What he actually finds are a roommate nicknamed The Colonel and the completely-unattainable-yet-tragically-flawed girl down the hall, Alaska Young. Of course she has a boyfriend, and of course Pudge falls for her and thinks he may actually have a chance with her. All of the characters are unrealistic in that super-intellectual-beyond-their-years Dawson’s Creek way, except less charming and less likable. Long story short, Alaska dies and Pudge and his friends spend the rest of the book playing detective to try and figure out whether it was an accident or a suicide.

The saving grace was that I felt like I could relate to Alaska – not that I am anything like her, aside from the fact that I understood her guilt and anger and emptiness. That part of her character was very well-written and believable. The rest of her was annoying and snotty and entitled, which I suppose was the author’s attempt to make her more true to life. Sure, she’s gorgeous and everyone likes her, but she’s not perfect. She’s mean and uses people and doesn’t really care about anyone except for herself.

 

Book #23 of 2014: Paper Towns

It has become painfully obvious that I need to post reviews immediately after I read something, because I have already forgotten the entire plot of this book. I had to read a bunch of reviews on Goodreads and BN.com to jog my memory, and even now I am having difficulty separating this one from Looking for Alaska which is the first point I want to make: All John Green novels appear to be exactly the same, except the characters have different names and they take place in different settings. Other than that, the formula appears to be identical: quirky, awkward boy is in love with out-of-his-league girl, characters speak in painfully forced “hip” language, and everyone tries to much too hard to be deep and introspective.

Quentin is in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman (if I never have to read that name again, it will be too soon). Margo couldn’t care less about Q, but still shows up in his bedroom one night and drags him on a night-long adventure so she can get revenge on all of her “friends” who have wronged her at some point. She then disappears and the rest of the book is Q pining for her and setting out on a completely unbelievable road trip to find and rescue her.

I’ve now read all of Green’s work and I still don’t get it. Maybe I’m too old? The kids seem to love him and use words like “life changing” to describe his stories, but I just don’t buy them.