Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska - John Green My biggest complaint re: Looking for Alaska is that it is not The Fault in Our Stars. I realize that this is an idiotic, irrational, and patently unfair complaint, but please understand that TFIOS is one of my all-time favorite novels (and novels do not make my all-time favorite list easily) and that I was both hoping and irrationally assuming that Looking for Alaska would float itself right onto my all-time favorites list just by virtue of being written by John Green. Sadly, literature does not work that way, and the fact that one book speaks to you in beautiful and incredible ways does not mean that everything ever written by that author will speak to you the same way.

Now, all of the above taken into consideration, I would be lying if I said I didn't have a few practical problems with Looking for Alaska as well. For starters, I did not like the characters. This is not to say the characters are unlikable. I happen to hold characters to ridiculously high standards and I have random and undefinable criteria for what makes an awesome character, so it is quite possible you are reading this review and have read the book and are confused because you loved the characters, or that you are reading this review and will read the book and be confused because you loved the characters. Moreover, John Green makes a valid point in his discussion guide: "Do you really need to like a character to read about them?"

Secondly, I found the entire plot to be very predictable, but I admit that this could be because I had heard enough about this book to be reasonably sure about what was going to happen. I don't necessarily have a problem with predictability, but I was still hoping that something unexpected would happen, and in that respect I was disappointed.

Lastly, I am not a huge fan of gratuitous swearing/sex/etc in books, especially YA books. I realize that makes me a nerd, and I realize that this is a personal preference thing, and I appreciate that much of the sex and other "adult" bits were hilarious and awkward and actually made the book more enjoyable in many ways. Still, I think that a book on the teen shelf should be properly marked if it is going to have semi-graphic or even just highly suggestive adult scenes. If I had read this five years ago, or even a year or two ago, I would probably have been more bothered by this than I was, but I don't like the idea of unsuspecting thirteen year olds reading this novel.

All of the above said, I did enjoy Looking for Alaska , and I do recommend it to the older teen/young adult reader looking for a contemporary read. After they've already read The Fault in Our Stars, that is.