Looking For Alaska: Book Review

Looking For Alaska book coverBook: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Publisher/Year: Dutton Juvenille/2005

Genre: YA

Pages: 256

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ – Very good

Is it going to be a movie? Yes! But it’s in very early stages. All we know is that Sarah Polley will be directing.

What’s it about?
Miles “Pudge” Halter leads a very boring with life with no friends until he attends Culver Creek Boarding School searching for a “Great Perhaps.” There he meets Alaska Young, Chip “The Colonel” Martin and Takumi Hikohito who changes his life for the better (and the worse). Pudge falls for Alaska upon meting her; she’s smart, funny, beautiful, screwed-up and draws him in completely. He goes from reading biographies and memorizing people’s last words to smoking, drinking, pulling pranks and having the time of his life. But then something happens that completely changes his world again.

What did you think?
Looking For Alaska reminded me a lot of The Perks of Being A Wallflower. There’s the socially awkward yet lovable boy (Pudge/Charlie) that gets pulled into a new circle of friends consisting of a beautiful, charming and self-destructive girl (Alaska/Sam) and the girl’s best friend who is more stable but just as fun (The Colonel/Patrick).  But I loved Perks so I didn’t entirely mind all the similarities. Even though I probably prefer Perks, I still really enjoyed Looking for Alaska. I am becoming a huge fan of John Green (I know I’m a little late to the party) as I mentioned in my Fault in Our Stars review. He has an infinite amount of great quotes and his style is perfection. Basically all hail John Green forever and always.

One thing I really like about Alaska is that it’s split into two sections: Before and After. Every chapter starts with a countdown (X Days Until…) to After. It’s a simple but effective way to keep me even further enthralled in the book. The story and characters were enough to keep me reading but the countdown made me feel like I had to know what was going to happen.

Should I read it?
Yes! Especially if you are a girl in the preteen-young adult age range. Even if you’re not, it’s a great book. You can get a copy at Thriftbooks or Amazon.

If I Stay: Book Review

 

If I Stay book cover Book: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Publisher/Year: Dutton Juvenile/2009

Genre: YA Fiction

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass500 Days of SummerHugo)
No one else worth talking about

When can I watch it?
It was released August 22.

What’s is about?
Mia Hall is 17 years old in a coma after a horrible car accident. While comatose, Mia has an out-of-body experience and can see all her friends and family gathering at the hospital where she is being treated. In the midst of watching her friends and family grieving, she experiences flashbacks and relives some of her most important memories. Then, she realizes that she has to decide whether she wants to wake up and live a life harder than anticipated, or if she wants to slip away into her coma and let herself die.

What did you think?
I didn’t enjoy it as much as everyone else in the world seemed to enjoy it, but I liked it. It definitely made me think and shed a tear or two. When I read I often end up putting myself in the position of the characters and that made reading this book hard and emotional. It’s hard to imagine what I would do if I were in Mia’s situation — to have one moment change my life so drastically and then to have to decide whether or not I want to keep living my life (which has been changed for the worse, forever). It takes me 20 minutes to decide if I want chocolate or swirl soft serve ice cream, so there’s approximately zero probability that I could make a decision like this.

One thing I didn’t love about the book was that all the characters were a little too perfect. Mia came from a perfect little family with the perfect boyfriend who was in a band. A little bland. Although I do have to admit that I loved her boyfriend, but who doesn’t love perfection? It’s really easy to love a character that has minimal to no flaws. If he did have a flaw it would be in his dramatic actions. He gets to be a little theatrical and pulls some over-the-top moves when Mia is in the hospital which I can see rubbing a lot of the people the wrong way, but I’m a dramatic person too so I thought he was great.

Something else that not everyone will love about the book is that I got a little bit of a “chick flick” vibe from it. It could get a little sappy which sometimes I didn’t mind and sometimes I felt like side-eyeing Chloe. But most of the time I was into it.

The trailer has me a lot more excited for the movie and made me cry so…

Should I read it?
It’s a decent read, I wouldn’t list it as a top priority but you should probably add it to the reading list. You can get a copy here or here.

The Fault In Our Stars: Book Review

The Fault In Our Stars book

Book: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Publisher/Year: Dutton Books/2012

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ½

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Shailene Woodley (The Secret Life of the American TeenagerThe Descendants)
Ansel Elgort (Carrie)
Willem Dafoe (The Boondock Saints, Green Goblin from the first Spider-Man)
Laura Dern (Jurassic Park)

When can I watch it?
It hits theaters June 6. TOO LONG TO WAIT.

What’s it about?
Life and love and the unfairness of it all. Hazel (Woodley) is terminally ill with cancer and needs an oxygen tank to breathe, but she doesn’t let it get her down. She’s accepted her fate and is determined to live however much life she has left on her own terms. She’s settled into an antisocial, stay-at-home kind of life until she meets dreamboat Augustus “Gus” Waters (Elgort) at her Cancer Kids Support Group. Hazel is determined to not get close with Gus and instead continue living the life of a hermit in her little remaining time, but Gus has different plans.

What did you think?
So many feels. Just so many feels. It was like John Green reached inside my soul and molded my heart into anything he wanted like it was play-doh. He just has a way with words that hit home and his writing really makes you think. He’s written a lot of other popular books (Looking for AlaskaAn Abundance of KatherinesPaper Towns) and I’ve already added them to my reading list. John Green is so much fun (and heart-wrenching) to read, he also has a great video blog series on YouTube.

Anyway, back to the book.

I love Hazel’s blunt and sarcastic attitude. While she can be cynical, she’s mostly just a realist; she knows what life has dealt her and she’s not going to sugar coat it. Hazel doesn’t believe in placing hope in a hopeless situation and she accepts everything for what it is. Next to her wit, this is my favorite part about Hazel. Some people may see her attitude toward life and label her a Debbie Downer, but I think she’s wise to not put a happy spin on tragic scenarios. Hazel’s also funny, smart, brave, guarded and charming — she’s pretty much just the coolest girl ever.

The witty banter between Hazel and Gus alone is worth reading this book. They reject almost anything that’s standard or traditional and march to the beat of their own drum. They’re two truly unique individuals who make a perfect pair. Their love of the unorthodox is both refreshing and endearing. While their relationship is unconventional and flawed, it’s equally beautiful and perfect for them. Is it clear that I’m absolutely obsessed with them? Good.

Here’s the trailer and I’m a puddle of emotions. (Although if you haven’t read the book I would recommend not watching the trailer just yet, I always think trailers give away too much.)

Should I read it?
Yes! It’s pretty short and an easy read, you can finish it in no time. But keep in mind it’s YA and not the most dense or complex book out there, so if you can’t get off your high horse then trot away from this one. But if you’re a cool person, you can get a copy here or here.

Divergent: Book Review

Divergent book cover

Book: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Publisher/Year: HarperCollins/2011

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Shailene Woodley (The Secret Life of the American Teenager and The Descendants)
Theo James (Underworld: Awakening)
Miles Teller (That Awkward Moment and 21 & Over)
Kate Winslet (Titanic and unfortunately Labor Day)

When can I watch it?
It comes out in theaters March 21!

What’s it about?
Tris (Woodley) lives in a society divided into five factions, each dedicated to a different virtue: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Erudite (the intelligent) and Dauntless (the brave). Now that she’s 16 she has to choose which faction she wants to join — she can either stay with her family in the Abnegation faction or go to a faction that better suits her. Once she decides she and the other initiates must go through a physically, emotionally and mentally grueling initiation. But there’s a hot guy named Four (James) who helps make everything better because it’s a YA novel and there’s always a hot guy. (I don’t hate it.)

What did you think?
This is yet another YA dystopian series with an all-powerful regime and two brave, young, beautiful people falling in love who want to lead a revolution. So, I loved it. Of the many books I’ve read in this genre this is one of my favorites. Although, a lot of the other series started well and then disappointed me as the series went on, so we’ll have to see how this story unfolds.

One thing that separates Divergent from other YA dystopian novels is that there’s no love triangle (yet). So, three cheers for semi-individuality (hip hip hooray! x3). But since tween/teens/college students who refuse to accept their age need a swoon worthy character that will set their expectations for real life guys way too high…there’s a love interest. And, obviously, he is perfect.

Another good thing about Divergent is that Tris is a strong character. She’s strong and brave, but not perfect. Unlike Bella in Twilight or Juliette in Shatter Me, Tris isn’t weak or whiny. She knows what cards she’s been dealt and is ready to play the game. Bellyaching and crying in a corner won’t get her anywhere, so she works hard and does what she needs to do to survive in her faction. Even though she’s a boss, she still has her flaws. Just like everyone she has fears and shortcomings, which make her more believable and easier to relate to. A hero who lacks imperfections is boring (*cough cough* Superman *cough cough*).

It was fun and exciting following Tris through initiation with her fellow comrades (and rivals). Without giving anything away, I loved and was surprised how Divergent differentiated itself again from other YA dystopian novels; it didn’t follow the same plot progression as many of the series I’ve read. Based on other books I thought I had a general idea of what would happen and when it would happen, but Divergent has already departed from the general story line I had mapped out in my head. I can’t wait to read Insurgent!

Should I read it?
If YA series are your thing then I don’t know what you’re waiting for, buy it here or here right now. But if you’re too cool for YA adventures and romance then I recommend you pass on this one.