Brandy's Reviews > Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska by John Green
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's review
Oct 23, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: audiobooks, 2007reads, teen, bildungsroman, library, romance, realistic, friendship, 2014, boy-books, for-work
Read in April, 2014

When I read this years ago, I was amazed by it--this author really understands teens, in a way that you don't see from a lot of authors! But now I've read a lot more and this didn't blow me away the same way it once did.

That's not saying that it's bad--just that there are better books. I liked it and I thought it was compelling and I liked the characters* but I'm not about to shout it from the mountaintops.

*I liked the characters insofar as I think they were well-written and I liked their interactions. Alaska was very caught up in being mysterious and being their enigmatic leader--I didn't like that about her, but I liked the writing of her. I like when Takumi corners Pudge to remind him that he doesn't have a monopoly on liking Alaska. Takumi is otherwise underutilized, but that's clear when he finally tells Pudge and the Colonel that he's sick of being shut out of everything. They're characters with faults, and problems, both of their own and of their writing.

First read on Audio in Oct 2007

The back jacket copy of the book quotes KL Going, who describes this as "a powerful novel--one that plunges headlong into the labyrinth of life, love, and the mysteries of being human." I can't really say it better than that, though my attempts would surely sound a little less eloquent. Looking for Alaska is a stronger novel--certainly on an emotional level, and possibly on the writing as well--than his follow-up, An Abundance of Katherines, but that would explain why this one won the Printz award and Katherines was just an Honor book.

As far as the audio edition is concerned, the narrator (Jeff Woodman) is an excellent choice. The different characters are all easily distinguished from each other, and Woodman captures the tone of a 16-year-old boy--cynical and nerdily aloof--perfectly in his speech. My only complaints about the audio recording are in the production of it: first, 99 tracks of 45 seconds apiece? That's crap. Second, the beginning and end of each disc are punctuated with this cheery music that doesn't even come close to fitting the tone of the book. (Also, I don't need an audio cue to tell me that the disc is over. When it stops playing, that's a pretty good hint.)
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