Pizzamas last week, combined with rereading Looking for Alaska, by John Green, for class recently, made me wonder who you all think is the most crush-worthy character in this book. I personally don’t think it’s Pudge/Miles … but all the characters are pretty flawed as well. I’m super curious to see who you would marry, who you would date, and who you would dump between Miles, the Colonel, and Takumi. Let me know in the comments!
Did you know today is day two of Banned Books Week, which this year is being celebrated from September 22 to September 28. I’ve always kind of known there were banned books, but I think I viewed this as a problem that mostly existing the past or in really small pockets of America. I pictured the banning of books like Lady Chatterly’s Lover. It wasn’t until this year that I learned that the banning of books hugely spiked in the 1980s. Books like Harry Potter, Twilight, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Hunger Games, and even the Alice books are among the most banned books of the last decade, along with classics like Huckleberry Finn and Beloved. This problem is not in the past. It not only exists in the present. It is growing. Continue reading “Marry, Date or Dump: Men from Banned Books”
Last Saturday was best-selling YA author and vlogbrother John Green’s birthday. It got me to thinking that yes I’ve done a Marry, Date or Dump on boys from his novels and yes I’ve done one where you could choose between Green and other YA authors, but I haven’t made a post for the girls from his books. I chose the ladies from his most famous books (Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Stars) but if you want to swap in Jane from Will Grayson, Will Grayson or Lindsey from An Abundance of Katherines then go for it! Lots of people criticize Green’s books for buying into the manic pixie dream girl trope. I would argue that he takes that theme and adds layers to it … but that is probably a topic for another post. I really love his female characters for being intelligent, independent, and most importantly for never forgetting to be awesome.
One of the best things I’ve gained from blogging is a huge appreciation of John Green. Actually, it goes way beyond an appreciation considering the amount of time I spend watching him and his brother on Youtube. He seems to have his finger in so many pies right now. And not normal everyday pies… like extra delicious, new flavors, super popular pies. The nerd fighters are everywhere these days.
There’s a stage I remember in high school where everything becomes a paradox. Even things that are completely straightforward suddenly have two opposing sides. Looking for Alaska, by John Green, and they way I feel about the book, brought me back to that time. And I can’t decide if that was the genius or flawed quality of the writing. To me, the book seemed like a strange combination of very interesting but not believable or relatable characters and very ordinary but marvelously described situations.
The characters all seemed to be to fit into the categories of cliché or anti-cliché. The protagonist, Miles/Pudge (so nicknamed because of his scrawny stature), is the smart unpopular kid who never fit in at home but makes friends with a group of outsiders (a paradox in itself, perhaps, but maybe I’m stretching) when he decides to spend 11th grade at his father’s old boarding school. This band of misfits is made up of his roommate (the bitter but brilliant scholarship student from a trailer park), Takumi (a stereotype defining Asian rapper), at times Lara(the attractive but shy Russian exchange student) and the center of the book (and title character) Alaska.
We learn a lot about all of the characters, their back-stories, motivations, and goals. But the way we learn them is very upfront and unnatural. The characters feel the need to explain themselves to Miles/Pudge when they meet. You’re understanding of the characters does not develop through out the book. They are interesting, but static. Especially Alaska, who is a fair portrayal of the common female character, who is so different and amazing that everyone reveres her (think zooey deschanel in 500 Days of Summer or Zelda Fitzgerald).
By contrast the plot is fairly predictable. Pudge gets “corrupted” into a fairly genial world of sneaking cigarettes, drinking bad wine, a prank war with the rich and oh so preppy “weekday warriors” and his first sexual experiences along with dealing with religious questions and feeling both drawn to and independent from his parents. Instead of being boring, these sections were so accurately written they remained interesting while being universal. I kept thinking that’s exactly how I felt but explained in better words.
The book was slow going in the beginning, but by the end I felt compelled to finish it quickly. I said I had to run errands during my lunch break, and finished the car in the parking lot of the CVS. With all the hype and praise for John Green’s new book “The Fault in Our Stars” I will definitely follow up with that one soon. But part of me think it’s fun to discover a new author, by reading their first published book.
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