A few years ago, I had a crush on guy. He knew YA lit was my thing, so he asked me to make a recommendation for a great YA book. I handed him Looking for Alaska by John Green.
I waited in breathless anticipation to hear that he loved the novel as much as I did.
Suprisingly, he didn't like it at all. He said the plot was predictable, the writing mediocre, and the themes heavy-handed. Needless to say, I don't have a crush on that boy any more.
Looking for Alaska is not a perfect book, but I do think (as I may have already stated) that it is a quintessential YA novel with all the good - and bad - that that title entails. The themes are fairly straightforwardly spelled out. The story of a crazy girl who changes a boy's life is awfully familiar. The supporting characters border on too quirky to be believable. The writing is lovely, but it does take a second place to the plot.
the Positives, though, so beautifully outweigh the problems the novel may have. The emotions are so finely wrought. I feel the adoration, the awkwardness, the grief and the guilt that Pudge, the protagonist, feels. Pudge is dynamic, and his changes are real and deep. This novel tells a story of a teen embracing what it means to be human in a way that few other novels have done so well. Alaska could have so easily fallen into the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" trap, but she always remains so much more than that; and throughout the book has more life than just the meaning she imparts to Pudge. And the pranks, oh the pranks! They are glorious.
All in all, this is a fine book and one I will continue to recommend until I find that someone who loves it as much as I do.