Monthly Archives: May 2012

“A Wild Sheep Chase” by Haruki Murakami: a novel review

Alright! Okay! I missed something! What the hell! What. The. Hell!

What the f*** did I just waste a week of my life reading? Why couldn’t I stop? Why was I enthralled? What was lost in translation?

I loved “Norwegian Wood”. That one, five star. This?! “A Wild Sheep Chase”?

Less of a novel and more of a parable or a very long allegory. I didn’t get it. Super-weird, surrealistic overdose. Prepare for a timeless wandering where you can’t place the decade this was written in or confirm any character’s motivations. Aimless themes. Half of Murakami’s books are better than this. An incomprehensible tale of philosophy and self-actualization that only carries weight for the very curious and open-minded reader. Only they will take something away from it, and even then, everyone will argue about what it “really meant.”

Skip it, skip it, skip it.

I felt like I was stuck in a dream but couldn’t wake up. I’ve never so willingly subjected myself to crazy sh*t before. Something kept me reading, likely the philosophy and the mood/environment descriptions taking on characterizations all their own, but that’s where the praise stops. It stops HARD.

Read if you like subtle symbolism, Japanese history, alcohol, cigarettes, more cigarettes, descriptions of cooking and eating food nearly every chapter, non-sense dialogue, and a lazy, unmotivated protagonists who rarely exhibits the proper emotion: rage, confusion, or doubt given the irrational and insane things occuring in the world around him.

No amount, I mean no amount of spirituality or literary beauty can save this one. It’s full of set-ups that barely paint the character and we never see pay-offs later in the plot. There are loose ends with characters. This was barely fun to read and is frustrating as all hell. But, again, something kept me reading. I guess it was a morbid facination with the fantasy elements of this shitshow, but I guess I also just wanted to read the whole thing so I could properly critique it and tear it apart and back up my claims.

How this book can be given above a 3.5 staggers me, and all the 5 reviewers are literary elitist that want to be in some sort of “I get it” club, like since I don’t appriciate his crazy sh*t, I’m uncultured or incapable of higher thought. No matter the language this novel is in, no matter who describes their opinions and interpretations to me, I will never change my star rating for this book. It’s a book that depends entirely on the readers interpretations. Only certain things are “fact” in this brain-pounding novel, and besides the ideas or reinvention of one’s self, people can make up any reasonings and answers for this creative writing experiment and support whatever arguments they want. You cannot be right, you cannot be wrong. You can only be mind-fu*ked.

Nothing feels present day Japan or America culturally, and nothing feels like past decades of Japanese or American cultures. It’s “timeless” and odd in its own way, if those are even the right words.

You can not compare the two, but Norwegian Wood by Murakami runs literary, thematic, and emotionally-statisfying circles around “A Wild Sheep Chase.” I need a brandy like the Sheep Man.

I could not recommend this book to anybody, ever. It was “okay” only: a two star. I gave it and extra 1/2 star for rediculous originality mashing reality with bat-sh*t crazy fantasy.

Fu*k this book.

2.5/5

MH

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THE AVENGERS: a movie review

Honestly, this movie shcoked me.

It was that well-made, has earned it’s hype, and is an excellent example of what a proper team of filmmakers are capable of crafting. It is the definition of awesome, and I am not a fanboy gusher. I have some standards and was prepared to be a critic on this one.

I was not expecting much from this movie since I’m a bit tired of the past 12 years of superheroes in theaters, but I gotta say, Joss Whedon has once again directed and written a piece of action movie magic, and a balanced expolration of motivations, conflicts, steadily rising stakes, and genuine humor that never felt invasive. In a world of, really, too many hero movies beginning in ’99 or ’00, this one came very late in the game (2012) and truly proved itself to be among the Best of the genre.

But “The Avengers” is not just a good superhero film, it’s an entertaining action-adventure story as well, with great character development, clearly shot and well coreographed action and editing, and stood as THEE kick-off to a summer done right. Not often do the opening acts for the summer movie season carry so much weight. This one earns it.

Go see this one at least once in theaters, even if you don’t know anything about the heroes or their previous movies. If you have seen the previous films (Thor, Captain America, Iron Man 1/2, Hulk) you will simply have a deeper appriciation for some of the references and likely look forward to revisiting some of these films.

“The Avengers” went above and beyond my expectations and I will be owning this one on DVD/BluRay. Go with friends, get exicted, cheer, laugh, and spread the word.

One of the 5 Best Marvel films ever made.

9.5/10

MH

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“The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls: a book review

It’s probably a five star for direct and straight-forward writing, honesty and general flow, but the tale is heavy with dark twists and barely enough “light at the end of the tunnel” for me.

Yes, there’s redemption, but this isn’t a book you fly through in a few days. You should take it slow. There’s no reason to read this memoir, this terribly sad life spanning decades for Jeanette Walls, in a weekend. Why pump these wacky and awful memories in your own mind in a few days when she herself at least had the luxury of experiencing them slowly over time?

I enjoyed it at a 3 star level, but I know the writing is a 5.

It gets a four (4) because I don’t know how important this story is or how brave she really was for most of the tale. Some of you are going to hate me for saying this, but hear me out:

She happened to have the good fortune at a young age of being genetically capable of dusting herself off again and again where she could have easily been kidnapped or died of hunger or ran away and starved. I don’t know how much of her younger years were really any kind of learned bravery, but rather, something innate. Other kids in her shoes may have never been able to cope, somehow Jeanette just… could. I don’t know… as far as the critics of the book are concerned who say it’s the bestest, bravest thing ever — well, it’s like being proud of yourself for being 6 feet tall or being Latino or having hairy knuckles. Don’t have pride in what you have no control over. Pride should be for something you accomplish, not something you just happen to be born with. You can like it, and appreciate it, but for the critics or the author to have “pride” in something that just “is” strikes me as spiritually and philosophically questionable. On the surface, I’m a dick and this is a great triumphant and sad story. But I just want to play devil’s advocate. Some people’s lives are worth sharing. But can you not see how a reader could find the possible exploitation of a troubled life for the sake of book sales questionable? Someone with a nice life with not much conflict could write a book and it would never sell. People like the vicarious experience of other people’s lives that sucked worse than their own, and that carries a whole other conversation about the interests and entertainment values placed upon by your average American. It’s like that other book “A Stolen Life.” Is it really ethical we salivate for these titles of ruined, non-ficitional lives by consumers? Debatable.

Again, I’m not trying to disparage Walls’ tenacity, but cast some light on perhaps a more cynical view of how we all grow and deal with our shit. It is how it is. Walls’ kicks ass, but she surviving more than being brave in my opinion, and no, those thing s are not always mutually exclusive, though sometimes they are hand-in-hand.

Jeanette Walls DOES have a “triumph” story that she can tell, but it wasn’t because she was instilled with any great life lessons from an adult about “holding on” and working hard. It was almost fate. She just did it, and maybe that’s a cynical view and one that is surely in the minority, but she just happened to be who she happened to be and came out tough as nails. I know I sound like an asshole, but I want to point out that her success, and her “bravery” didn’t show up until her maturity came to fruition in the “Welsh” section of the book where she was 17, a junior in high school, and decided to leave for NYC. The end of this tale was a brave one, but most of the book is about a little kid getting the shit end of the stick.

I hate Jeanette’s asshole parents, and I feel terrible for Jeanette. But the real question is: should authors on a moral or philosophical level make profit from sharing a scarring life’s tale of themselves? Is an artful recollection of dark, personal events in one’s life ethical to sell books of, however cathartic or remedial?

I recommend this book to people who like fucked up lives or biographies/coming-of-ages where a milieu of awful, shameful, crooked, bastardly things happen to one family and one girl in particular. The family, Jeanette, and her siblings move from place to place in America, being dirt poor or homeless, unschooled, and Jeanette basically takes care of the whole family and herself from the age of 9. Jesus. By the time she’s in her 20s, she makes it to NYC, he siblings are for the most part okay, and her parents are still homeless drifters worth nothing with a fucked up view of the world. I would say it has to be read to be believed, but even then, you will not believe some of this really happened, and whatever “bad upbringing” you had will pale in comparison.

4/5

MH

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“Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare: a book review

*Yawn*

Unembellished, functional, utilitarian fantasy: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare is cheese pizza: it’s good, but nothing’s on it. This series is the cheese pizza of Young Adult/Teen Pop Lit right now. Good, but, so what?

Its set-up and execution serves its purpose, nothing more. The depth is not there and the large cast of characters feels small or disposable from lack of character building in the first 100 pages. The reader can’t know anything beyond this: a teenage female protagonist is looking for her brother and gets mad or curious or happy when situation are present accordingly. Flat. There isn’t a whole lot to Tessa. The first 100 pages see little plot progress, which would be okay if we are getting world building, which is only so-so, or maybe character building, but there is very little of that. I don’t care how good the rest of ANY book becomes later, you’d better have me hooked by page 100, or, what the hell are you doing writing with such pacing? Something needs to fill in and merit such pacing. There’s so little here.

This continues in the second act. Good luck.

Plus the dialogue! Could no one in the publishing house weed it down a bit? Reel it in? Page 75 to 96 was nothing but walking around the building they live in establishing vague plot and predictable world-building and I was falling asleep. The first five chapters, almost entirely but not fully, are charged with creative manslaughter and dialogue abuse in the first degree: paragraphs of dialogue, pages of it, tiresome peripheral convos, and dizzying historical banters and babblings. Lazy, lazy, lazy. This could have been told in 75 pages, not 100.

So, let’s move away from the first half of the book.

Her popularity: let’s chat about that.

Again, she may not be as poor as I am making her sound, granted, but she is certainly “good” at best and is ASTOUDINGLY, INCREDIBLY over-rated. I can understand 3 and 3.5 stars. Really, I can. But, any other “hot author” from the past 12-months has her dead to rights in the “ability to tout the praise” area: including Suzanne Collins, Laini Taylor, and Veronica Roth.

About the characters: Will Herondale is the only character fleshed out, and the Dark Sisters are cool, though evil archetypes—and generic at that. Still enjoyable villains.

The Genre: Decent fantasy, poor attempt of “steam-punk.”

Serving as a prequel series to Cassandra Clare’s original “Mortal Instruments” series, I was told the first book in this “Infernal Devices” series, Clockwork Angel, was quality enough to stand on its own. Awesome stuff, I was promised. That statement is…. Ehhh….

City of Bones MUST be better than this, or I just won’t understand her popularity. However debatably good the ending of this might be, and it leaves a lot hanging, it doesn’t make up for the bad taste lingering in your mouth from the first half. Why do I have to pay 15 dollars three or more times for a serialized trilogy story so unworthy of fifty-ish dollars?

Stop with the filler, YA publishers and authors. Stop. Give us quality. A sequel if pertinent only. If I wanted magic and race-separatism and clever made-up words, I’d read “Harry Potter.”

If I wanted paranormal romance, I’d read “Paranormalcy” or “Twlight.”

If I wanted fable, myth, and consequences for not completing otherworldly tasks, I’d dig into “Daughter of Smoke & Bone.”

All of the above titles deliver better on their themes and tones than this novel, which tries to mash them all together. By not focusing on one thing, but rather talking at the reader through exposition about many shallow things, we’re left unsatisfied and unmotivated with drudgingly slow and mediocre plot. I’ll say it like this: reading to discover a frustrating, itching answer to a question or reading because your enthralled by a plot are two different things. Both will keep you reading, but in one of these instances, you’re made about it. You have to know the ending, right? I kept reading because I was pissed off and wanted answers. I wanted to find the brother, and maybe in the process, find out why this book was so damned popular.

Humph.

Get to the 100 page marks of both “Clockwork Angel”, and say, “Divergent”, and tell me which one earned it’s page count. Which one “moves and grabs.” Clare is just in need of a good copy editor. There is flat prose and style issues that could easily be improved by a knowledgeable team and a willing, open, non-egomaniacal author. Not that Clare is one, but I’m merely stating that great books come from a great team with an author who works with her criticisms pre-release, and I hope Clare is one of those level-headed non-control freaks. For every 100 pages of this book, 20 pages at least could have been chopped out.

This 480 page book could have been a well-paced 400-page novel, but, no.

So, disclaimer: I didn’t wanna hate this! I loved the first 50 pages! I really did!

I went into this title really amped up. My co-workers and friends said “rock on” and I heard nothing but praise for it. I genuinely feel bad that I’ve been left out of what seems to be a really exciting series for the majority of people who read this.

According to Goodreads.com, Cassandra Clare’s series’ (“the Mortal Instruments” and “the Infernal Devices”) both average over 70% of people who read it gave it a 4 or 5 star books. Amazin, right? I’m sorry that I’m not on the bandwagon, because I sure as hell would love to able to get into it and be excited for the film that is being made from her earlier title from the Mortal Instruments series: “City of Bones.”

Wrapping this up: Again, this is a “buy my sequel, buy my series, buy the next book in ten months” publishing ploy and I’m starting to really be irritated by that. Don’t abuse our wallets with your sham, publishers! Don’t make your authors fluff and fatten and filler their novels. We’re being used, fellow readers. Write one good book. Maybe two. Remember those days? I can’t.

This last bit may sound harsh, but there is just so much better stuff out right now between 2011’s Fall and 2012’s Spring publishing flood that this should be on the bottom of your list if it’s even on it. I’ll read “City of Bones” in the Fall, maybe, and make my final judgment on whether Cassandra Clare can live or not.

2.5/5

MH

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Movies to See: Summer 2012 Heads Up

Short and sweet and after some mild deliberation, I’ve conceived a list of the five movies you must see this summer. They are varied, they are going to be great, and I will put money on it. Yes, there are going to be a ton of movies in June, July and August, and maybe some of them will be “good”, but only a few will be great — worth that $10-12 dollar ticket price for the big screen treatment and seeing it with friends.

Here is that Must-See list:

  1. Prometheus (June 8th)
  2. Brave (June 22nd)
  3. The Amazing Spider-Man (July 7th)
  4. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20th)
  5. Total Recall (August 8th)

Honorable Mentions (a.k.a.: the Maybes and the Rental-worthy):

  1. Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1st)
  2. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22nd)
  3. Ted (July 13th)

It’s a light summer, but maybe that’s a good thing. With the month of May coming quickly to a close, there’s some good stuff coming at us at a manageable pace. If you can, like me, go to a midnight showing of any of these films if you’ve never experienced it before: sometimes, it can be a great moment for a large community. Other times, you’re just sitting in a room with loud, sweaty assholes. Choose your film wisely. Me? I’m Dark Knight all the way. That crowd will be nuts.

MH

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“I Am the Cheese” by Robert Cormier: a book review

A great book with a terrible title (until it all makes sense in the final pages), this is “Shutter Island” for teens.

Robert Cormier was there and doing Young Adult Lit before it was hip. Long before J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins. Ya feel me, bro? j/k

Forboding, mysterious, and filled with blips of stunning revelations, this short novel plays with perceptions, memory, and switches effortlessly between first-person present-tense chapters and third-person past-tense segments. Also, a third, unique form of storytelling exists here–the recording between the main character and the “Doctor.” Between these three avenues of tense and “feel”, the reader is brilliantly given different angles and interpretations of the story and it stays fresh. Somehow, since 1977, this novel still feels super fresh. Like the Supermarket chain. For real.

In this book, we follow a boy named Adam, who is trying to remember his past, where his parents are, and who this man is who keeps visiting him in a dank hospital room and asking questions. He hasn’t taken his pills in a while either, and ever other chapter, the narration leaves the hopsital and goes into what we believe is the past, the entire time Adam is driving somewhere with a package on his bik. We don’t when or if he will get there, if he has done this before, or what is in the package. Where his parents are and why he needed his medication and how far in the past this second part of the story takes place remain a mystery.

I was surprised at how much I liked the pacing and the voice, reminding me of a combination between “Catcher in the Rye”, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime”, with a bit of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and a splash of the films “Memento” and “Shutter Island” (in presentation of plot delivery).

An excellent book at a great length for teens. Well-written, tight, and only slowish around the three-quarter mark if I had to be picky. It’s a psycho-analytical text in one sense, and I think it speaks volumes that the young reading community once looked at YA Lit as true “literature”, in a format that was as challenging and deep as it’s themes. It’s also kind of cool that this book and others by Cormier are often attempted to be banned by certain groups. Silly rabbits.

I Will easily be reading and recommending more Robert Cormier to people, but specifically teens 13-19. “The Chocolate War” is next on my list, and came out two years before “I am the Cheese.”

4.5/5

MH

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“The Maze Runner” by James Dashner: a book review

So, another Young Adult Book. What can I say: It’s officially an obsession. And, no surprise, this one has ALSO been optioned for a film in the next two years just like two out of every three YA books I’ve been reading this year. Guess that’s where the money is. But now, on to the review:

If you want the one sentence version, here it is: It’s a great premise but weakly written, and while it’s not bad, it barely keeps the pages turning and you should just wait for the movie.

The big issues with its quality lie in the characters and the klunky writing. Some sentences are just not smooth, and it’s not a personal taste thing: it’s a literary, storytelling pillar. A staple of cohesive art. Consistant construction. The second act dragged. Certain diction and wording should have been changed.

Now, maybe it’s just one of those things that male authors do differently from women. The lyrical nature of some female writers is nonexistent here, and the dialogue can be overwhelming — not in the sense that there is slang used in their world, but in the sense that in a story that should be mostly action and mystery, there is too much yap-yap-yapping and every little, specific word of a conversation does not need to be shown. Show us the characters talking about the plot, throw in minor slice-of-life “asides”, and move on. The conversations could go on and on. Think Lord of the Flies with 50 more pages of Counsel meetings.

The characters, including the protagonist, came off as a bunch of pricks. Like, asses. Really: In each other’s face, unlikable, and not very empathetic. When the sad parts came, not a tear came from my eyeballs. It’s okay to have some ruffian characters like this in this type of hellish book: they’re living in terrible conditions and kids die violently. But some of the characters need to be likeable or have different levels of aggression. The only character I liked was the thirteen-year old Chuck, and he was chatty and obnoxious; charmingly bearable and an overachiever. And, yeah, that was the best one. Eek.

So, the good. The beginning and the end. While the rest of the book was being beaten in different ways by early 90s era Mike Tyson, what kept this book from having its ear bitten off was early chapters that make you salivate for details and rules of the maze. Throughout the middle, you just want to find out the ending. You don’t keep reading it because it’s good. In fact, it’s 50 pages too long. You get to the last 50 pages and are rewarded with a unique dystopian twist that will have people talking in the movie theaters. How this book ends, what the fictitious world is like, and what may come next for our gang of survivors will get people buzzing who haven’t read the book.

All in all, a 3/5 is about right. I liked it, sure. But I can’t fully recommend it to everyone. The movie could rule or could be lackluster. It’s all about the director. The trilogy could take us to great places, but it’s not at the top of the list of “Sequels I Must read in the Next Three Months.”

Often, a book’s ending doesn’t make me happy when the middle was so weak. It takes a lot to flush out a sour taste. This one did and with great intrigue. Recommended for teens 13-17 without a second thought. Everyone else, wait for the movie. You’re not missing out.

If you want dystopia, read “Legend” by Marie Lu and “Divergent” by Veronica Roth first. Then do this bad boy.

3/5

MH

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“Grave Mercy” by Robin LaFevers: a book review

I was SHOCKED at how good this was:

click to go to goodreads.com

It earns it’s page count and really blew me away. I don’t go for longer books (550 pages) but this earns it with virtually no “padding” B.S. chapters. Great plotting and character building. Not very much action, but that’s okay. It’s not supposed to be break-neck paced and action. It’s intriguing and mysterious and full of right-on dialogue of the times while begin readable. Much takes place in council sessions and castles and sneaking about courts and passageways.

It’s a superb alternative for new-comers to historical-fantasy who find Tolkien’s stuff too descriptive or “The Game of Thrones” too “vulgar” or just beefy with confusing language. (Not that I do, but, for example.) If you enjoy literature set in the 1400s or 1500s in France or Britain, lots of mystery, politics, a bit of magic and religion, and driven by dialogue and plot twists, read it! The romance is also the most realisticly blossoming and strong romance I’ve read in YA to date. This is for 13 and up. Really, any age would dig this! No themes or scenes make it “just for teens” (besides being with a female protagonist between the ages of 15-18, which… so what?). It feels mature and takes itself seriously.

It’s not some bubble-headed action, and with every passing of 100 pages you’re like: “sweet.” I can’t believe more people aren’t talking about this book. Jump into this now and put yourself in the hands of a great writer.

I give almost nothing 5/5 stars and don’t really read this genre to begin with. I was thoroughly impressed. The time she put into this is clear. She must be one of the best in this genre, and she crafts her stories like a true expert artist. While other titles are my “more favorites”, for what this genre is — for what the book is — just, WOW.

5/5

MH

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“Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut: a novel review

Taking a break from YA titles and doing a classic.

Look this is not a bad book. It’s good. It’s better than good. Maybe. But it’s over-rated.

I really like what this book was about but not enough to call it one of his best. I think another title of Vonnegut’s should be in the Modern Library’s top 100 Best English-language novels. Some great lines are in here, and I see the satire, but it wasn’t darkly funny enough to make me laugh out loud, nor do I understand the 5-star, glowing praise for what is mainly a metafiction of post-modern fatalism.

Maybe I’ve read too many other books which have since done it better or grabbed my attention harder. Maybe I grew out of my 20-year old self who would have enjoyed this more. I’m 26 now.

Meh.

Many have told me, before I read it, that it’s a book you either love or hate. I respectfully disagree. I understand and respect this book for what it is, so rather than jumping to a 2 or a 4 star like everyone I know, this gets a 3.

Yes, I did “get it.” That doesn’t mean I’m going to be pretentious and pretend I’m “super deep” and read Ulysses by Joyce for a bit of Sunday afternoon scholarly light reading. I just don’t like that crap. Doesn’t mean I’m not smart as shit and capable of reading big books or old books or complex books. Some stories, hey, I just don’t like. Simply put, believe it or not, things change over the decades, including how we read and what a given generation wants to read about or how. Imagine that. Some of you should pull your head out of your ass now. “Timeless” writing is relative. Oh, and an opinion most of the time. Rarely are people going to agree on the importance of the voice of, say, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. All kinds of people, educated and otherwise, love to have opinions about dated work like this. We just like to yack on and on about it. I don’t know why. Look at me. I’m doing it now!
Thematically, “Slaughterhouse-Five” is great work, it’s sharp — but for being such a short book, it was a slog at times. I really wish I could give the book 4+ stars like Vonnegut deserves, but this isn’t a review for Vonnegut’s body of work and his over-arching legacy/impact: it is but a review for Slaughterhouse-Five.
Only read this one after you read Welcome to the Monkey House (the short story collection), Cat’s Cradle: a novel, or “A Man Without A Country” (his memoir). These are great introductions/primers to him, I think. All of these are more steadily entertaining, not that SH-5 was completely dry. There are great moments here, clever ideas and sharp set-ups and narrative design; but I honestly fear how it will age.

Vonnegut will never die, but something else by him in the coming decades might replace “Slaughterhouse-Five” as the “quintessential” must-read by this author. Other stuff is just as funny or cynical or satrical or political. Just browse around on amazon.com for his stuff and you’ll get a good medley. Read some reviews, watch some youtube interviews, and wiki some info for yourself. There is a Vonnegut book for almost everyone (stereotypically and historically, mostly for dudes; I don’t know why, but I have a hard time finding girls who dig this guy).


I’m in the minority, I know. Still, SH-5 is only fifth place in my personal top five favorite by Vonnegut.

(R.I.P. : 1922-2007, age 84)

3/5

MH

more classic novels and Young Adult reviews coming soon.

Rating Scale:

  1. 1 hated it
  2. 2 very flawed
  3. 3 good
  4. 4 highly recommend
  5. 5 classic or personal fave

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“Looking For Alaska” by John Green: a book review

We’ve all felt like we don’t belong. We all wonder about religion and the meaning of life and friendships and love. This novel will remind you of everything you questioned as a teen, and might remind you to hold on to hope.

This novel rightly won the Printz medal for Outstanding Young Adult Ficiton and its cover art could not have been more smartly chosen.

John Green’s premiere book from 2006 will make you laugh out loud, cry, and marvel at how honest and heavy a novel can be. It’s almost a crime to ONLY call it a “YA” book. This is for anyone 15-30, if only because the people in this age group will more easily follow the lingo and pop culture references and likely know what a PlayStation 2 is. Having said that, I think even adults and teachers could easily find the value in this book. This ranks up there with the ultimate coming-of-age stories involving life, death, love, guilt, and “firsts.”
It is similar to Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood” (which focused on the 60s Japanese youth expereience) and Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” (the 50s American youth experience). “Looking For Alaska” brings it’s own modern/21st Century thing to table, with certain references and speech cadences that make it very readable, relateable, and digestable. There’s no question that this book is for 1990’s and 2000’s kids, yet the themes here are for any generation.
This is a solid 4.5/5 for style and message alone. There are maybe 10-15 pages that drag in the last 1/3 of the book keeping it from a 5/5, and maybe I’m being too harsh, but this is still an exceptionally necessary book to experience. It will take you to places of sorrow and joy and you will likely read another John Green book. Proof, once again, that small books can pack a punch and you don’t need over 400 pages to write important ficiton.

Every high schooler who has ever lost a love or had a friend die young, from accident or suicide, should read this book. You will connect with it, be lifted, and you will recommend the book like I am now.

Before or after you read this, John Green’s newest book, 2012’s “The Fault in Our Stars“, is just as good or better.

4.5/5

MH

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