John Green books always go one way or another for me. Before I read this novel I had read two of John Green's other books: The Fault in our Stars (whiJohn Green books always go one way or another for me. Before I read this novel I had read two of John Green's other books: The Fault in our Stars (which ripped out my soul) and An Abundance of Katherines (which was supposed to be a fun novel, but of which I found to be VERY stupid). I was worried when I picked up Looking for Alaska. I heard good things about it, and thought "Why the hell not?" "I'm on an anti-social kick so this thin little treasure is perfect for me and my busy lifestyle." Guess what? This book was pretty okay. It was not my favorite, but it wasn't bile like An Abundance of Katherines. It was good in the sense that it gave me some laughs and some tears, and got me to think. However, I did not find myself particularly attached to any of the characters. Overall I give this book a solid 77% out of 100.
Read below if you like spoilers or have read the book. Feel free to comment or chat me up about what you thought!
The beginning of this book was Rrreeeaaalllyyy slow for me. The novel is all about this kid named Miles Halter, nicknamed Pudge because he is skinny, who goes away to boarding school because he wants to seek adventure in his life. Even though that is well enough a good explanation, John calls this seeking the "Great Perhaps" because Miles is obsessed with the last words of the dying. ("The Great Perhaps" were included in the last words of Francois Rabelais.)
So anyway... This Miles kid ships himself off to his father's alma mater, Culver Creek boarding school south of Birmingham, Alabama. The kids he meets there are all pretty neat, but obviously the most important is Alaska. The way "Pudge" describes her kinda gets old. "Dead Sexy" "Hot" etc... Usually focusing on her hips, her curves, her mouth, her boobs...it gets old real freaking quick. At the same time, I was drawn to Alaska for many of the same reasons he was: besides her body, Alaska was very mysterious, fun, and daring. I really like all of these qualities about her. I like her strength and her outbursts of feminism. I was also often angered by her moody bitchiness and her flirting (often when the other characters were as well).
All of the pranks, underage drinking, smoking, and possible but uncertain budding love was all cut short by Alaska's sudden death. Her accident or suicide is left shrouded in mystery, but with enough information for the reader to guess. -I personally think it was an accident.
TO BE CONTINUED??? -What the fuck, John??? Why??? What did that mean? What was that for other than to throw us deeper into this mysterious labyrinth that Alaska was obsessed with?
I still have so many questions about these characters, and I am sad to feel that I did not get a proper farewell from any of them. Still the ending was beautiful. Readers were left with the last words of Thomas Edison, "It's very beautiful over there." Pudge writes in his paper for his religion course that he doesn't know where there is, but he believes its somewhere, and hopes its beautiful. I love this.
This was a novel I was assigned to as part of a seminar on Human Rights I was assisting in. When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka is a short pieThis was a novel I was assigned to as part of a seminar on Human Rights I was assisting in. When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka is a short piece of literature that follows the journey of a Japanese-American family in the height of World War II hysteria. The mother is separated from her husband- their children from their father in a story that truly does make one second guess everything they know about the nature of the second world war within our own borders. I rate this story at 2 out of 5 stars and rate it at 27% out of 100%. Though the novel's topic was interesting the story lacked an essence that should have connected the reader with the events of the time and with the characters themselves. Many of the students taking the course had a difficult time finishing this books despite it only being 144 pages. I myself had a rough time returning to its pages. I am sure there are better novels based on this time out there.
This novel is obviously not one of my personal favorites. The writing style is very different from most of the novels I choose to read. You never know the names of the family in this ordeal. I felt very disconnected from the whole of their experience. I feel the story could have been much more with a better personal connection to those characters.
However, the novel did succeed to bring the issues of the time to the forefront of discussion through the perspective of confused children. They are perplexed by the changes they witness around them as outstanding friends and neighbors turn to hatred and accusations in a time of post- Pearl Harbor hysteria. Their family is torn apart as their father is dragged from their home in his nightclothes and slippers for being a suspected enemy alien. Within a few months the rest of the family is forced into a life of living in stalls and being contained by barbed wire and soldiers with big guns. Much of this story is completely lifeless. Even the dis-justice of the situation sticks to the page instead of leaping off. Only the last bit of the story, titled "Confession," and is outstanding! The father, a character we know very little about becomes one of the best in the whole book. I like how confrontational and loud it is when compared to the rest of the novel.
Mma Ramotswe is setting out to break barriers as the first lady detective in the country of Botswana. After the painful loss of her loving father, PreMma Ramotswe is setting out to break barriers as the first lady detective in the country of Botswana. After the painful loss of her loving father, Precious Ramotswe sells her inherited cattle to open The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Despite the traditions set before her, Mma Ramotswe sets off a remarkable story of following one's own set path whilst helping others. Fall in love with a story that is unique in setting, characters, and culture. I give The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency a solid 94% (out of 100%) and 5 out of 5 stars. I only knocked off 6% because the book was very slow for me in the beginning, but the characters created by Alexander McCall Smith always had me coming back for more!
Read the rest of the review at ones of risk of spoilers: (view spoiler)[
Let me just say that this book was a fantastic change of pace from the usual first world settings I usually come across in novels. The book was able to point out differences in the history and way of life in Botswana whilst also making the culture seem more familiar to my own. It is always great to have a reminder just how similar people are across the globe despite the variety of walks of life.
All of the cases in this novel were amazing from the beginning, but my favorite case was the one of Dr. Komoti. To find out he had a twin who posed as him was quite extraordinary. (And brilliant! Way to go, Smith!) Not to mention the evil plot of having one degree but two full time careers for it was also great. (As a college student struggling with tuition...I must say bravo.)
I also found the underlying story of J.L.B. and Precious to be very heartwarming among all the mystery taking place. I found myself grinning ear-to-ear as she finally said "Of Course".