This is a review of Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, and An Abundance of Katherines.
I give them all +++++
To make a long story short, you need to go buy these three books and read them. I read these books about a year ago and posted this review on facebook (I have edited it a little)
An Abundance of Katherines was the first I read. I liked it so much that I literally took it everywhere with me. I read a few pages right before a class, I read a few pages while someone was setting up a presentation, I even read a little between presentations. Usually when I say I could not put a book down I am exaggerating…well not this time.
What surprised me most about this book was how funny it was. Now I know John Green is a really funny guy, but the book promised to be laugh out loud funny. I rarely laugh out loud while reading. This one did it for me. It resulted in weird looks which I loved because it felt like I was the only one in on this secret…but now I am letting the secret out.
It was also one of the most well written books I have read in a very long time. It was a very smart book (and not only because there were graphs). The characters were well-developed and did not fit into stereotypes. I know a book is good when what happens to the characters actually matters to me…and that has not happened since Harry Potter, and that had seven books to develop all of the characters. I cared about Hassan and Colin within 100 pages.
It also made you think about relationships, about friendships and about people in general. I would love to sit down with people who have read this book and hear how they reacted to certain characters and events. I think it is one of those books that different people from different backgrounds can look at it in VERY different ways (ex who they sympathize with, who they are most like ect).
Paper Towns was a very different book. But I couldn’t put it down. This one only took me a day and I read it every second that I could. I even skipped watching Grey’s Anatomy because I wanted to finish it.
Again, I really cared about the characters quickly, not only because I could relate to all of them in some way, but also because of how it was written. You are cheering for all of them. You want them to find out who they are and to find out more about each other.
Which to me, is the really amazing part of this book. It is so philosophical without being snotty. It talks about how you really find out about people, that it isn’t what you see or imagine them to be, it is deeper. It also reminds us that there are parts of people that we don’t get to see or experience…and a lot of the time that is just because they don’t want to let us.
Even more than An Abundance of Katherine the readers experiences and personalities can bring different ideas and reactions. I really feel like if you haven’t discussed it with others, you have not yet finished experiencing the book.
Looking for Alaska was a different book because it dealt with terrible loss in addition to having witty and interesting characters who struggle with the stress and chaos of teenage life. Miles is a nobody in every way and has just started at a boarding school, his roommate is on scholarship and has to prove himself every step of the way, and Alaska is…well Alaska is Alaska. She is rebellious, intelligent, and reckless.
Miles goes off of his nobody status and discovers alcohol, smoking, and how to pull off a prank on those students who enjoy torturing people like him. As the story goes on, the characters get deeper, especially Alaska. Miles begins to realizes that she has major problems and is suffering from severe depression, ending in a way that happens all too often in our world.There is more philosophy in this book to really make the readers think about their lives. It is heart-breaking and sad, but also has humor and some hope.
If someone wants to be a young adult writer, they need to read these books. They shouldn’t read them to copy the style, they should read them to see what a young adult book can do. These books don’t read like young adult books, the only reasons they really are is because of the ages of the characters. The ideas about self and friendship are ideas that everyone deals with, not something that only happens when you are from the ages of 14-19.
The books show that a young adult writer can try and tackle tough issues and ideas without dumbing it down. They are intelligent, the reader can’t just read passively and get as much out of them. The writing style also isn’t at a lower leve than an adult book eitherl. John Green gets what young adults can handle and gives them what they deserve – a work that is well thought out and well-written with amazing characters and situations that take us beyond our self-centered worlds and expand our minds.
So do yourself a favor an go buy the books and read them.