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Looking for Alaska

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bballmom

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I went to the library last night hoping to find this but our STINKING library doesn't have much.  All this discussion has me eager to read it, maybe a trip to B&N is in order.
#31 - September 30, 2005, 06:50 AM

Bohemian Princess

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John,
Thanks for joining this discussion on your book.  It is nice to have a glimpse of the author's point of view.  Please join us more often.  Congratulations! 
#32 - September 30, 2005, 07:39 AM

Laurie

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A bit of a turn of events here, I see.  Funny because I was just reading the thread on Kira-Kira and found myself wondering how I would feel as an author if I stumbled across the many negative remarks.  Ouch.  But I guess you need alligator hide to function in the publishing world, anyway....

Laurie S.
#33 - September 30, 2005, 09:00 AM

WG

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I just read the book & can see why it was a teen pick. I wish I could have taken the Old Man's Philosophy/Religion class when I was 16. But the character who I liked most was Takumi. The fox hat sealed it for me.

I don't buy that hotness is inherently subjective. Alaska is described as "the hottest girl in all of human history" before Pudge ever speaks to her. What does he have to go on? Her looks & provocative tank top. She is described as narrow-faced with sharp cheekbones, possessing ample cleavage, curvy, tiny-waisted, with skinny thighs. Yes, we get to "see" her butt up close as she somersaults out of a window, but she hardly gets stuck in the frame. Contrast the description of Alaska with that of the girl who draws herself in the buff; Pudge is no chubby chaser. And, frankly, a realistic portrait of "hotness" would have to be somewhat conventional to be realistic. Yes, there are beautiful people who are not sexually appealing to everyone. Had Pudge not liked her, Alaska would have receded into minor characterdom. My point here is not to argue that there ought to be more teen books with ugly or plain characters as the love interest. It is just to ask what's the point of equivocating?

#34 - December 19, 2005, 01:22 PM
« Last Edit: December 23, 2005, 07:29 AM by WG »

Athena529

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I have almost finished reading this book, and so far, I like it. Can't wait to see how it ends...
#35 - February 03, 2006, 08:21 AM

Athena529

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Finished! The book had some great lines and I loved the way it incorporated religion and last lines within the novel. I thought the character of Alaska was almost too perfect in that wild-beautiful-confident way, but the MC seemed authentic to me.
#36 - February 04, 2006, 07:08 PM

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Well I just finished this, and good golly, I thought it ROCKED.

I loved the characters-- thought they were complete and fully rounded. The plot construction was compelling. The humor was dead-on. And he handled a very tricky subject with absolute deftness. It was a can't-put-it -down experience for me.

It totally made me want to abandon writing all together.

So good.
#37 - March 12, 2006, 03:37 PM
Kristin Walker
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almarrone

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http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/12/books/review/12henning.html

Here's a link my friend sent me to a ny times list of YA books that don't include sex and drugs--um, Alaska is on it.  Someone obviously didn't read the book.
#38 - March 12, 2006, 06:00 PM

Cana

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Yep. I was going to put this book on my shelf when I finished it. My eighth graders, without a doubt, would love it. But it's too graphic for me to put it on my shelves. I don't want to risk a parent deciding they need to censor my shelves  :uhuh, especially since I just teach math and surely don't know anything about books :n, and why do I have books in my room anyway :faint:?

I loved the book. I'll agree it was a tad slow in starting. But I really liked Alaska. It's funny, I thought her zest for life and her unusual way of looking at life was part of what Pudge liked the most about her. In contrast, it was her negative, selfish views of life that he disliked about her. I thought it was scary real. The kind of real that I want to believe (as a mother) is not really out there. I was a 'good' girl. I want to believe that smart, smart kids like these wouldn't trash themselves the way these kids did. I don't want to believe my smart, smart kids will ever do these things. His book was so real it made me think about these issues. Because, deep down, as a teacher, I know it's real. Kids do make these awful choices. All of them. (All the choices...not kids.)

The book was recommended to me by Dorian Cirrone, author of Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You. (Shameless plug.  :pp) She gave me a wonderfully helpful critique of my YA last June. She wanted me to read it for the emotional intensity. Specifically the funeral scene. I have to say the 'after' part of the book was my favorite. The emotional ping pong of the characters felt so real. I think he did a great job drawing the reader into that. The ending, for me, was satisfying only because I felt there was no real answer to dealing with the pain. We create whatever rational we can to get us through it. I thought that was what Pudge did. I didn't expect any more from him since even though he was intellectually smart, I felt he was immature and experienced in life. He's just a kid after all. The book is still with me. But I only just finished it. I'm curious whether it will have staying power or not.

Oh...and I LOVED the junior prank! Great, funny stuff there!

And congratulations on your marriage, John. I was reading your book on May 20th.
#39 - May 22, 2006, 07:52 PM
« Last Edit: May 22, 2006, 07:54 PM by Cana »

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I finished reading this book over a month ago and, many novels later, the characters are still with me.  I would have loved this book as a teenager and I would have appreciated going through these life experiences with Pudge in the story.  I remember following many of the same thought processes he does but not having the words to articulate those feelings and experiences.  His pains and frustrations were very real to me.

As for whether or not Alaska was truly hot or just hot to Pudge, well, remember he loved the smell of her breath: cigarettes and stale wine.   :P
#40 - July 14, 2006, 08:08 AM
THE SECRET OF FERRELL SAVAGE
Atheneum (Simon & Schuster) February, 2014

maddog

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I am almost done with this book, and I'm really enjoying it.  I also found the beginning a bit slow and peeked ahead to "After" to find out what happened.  I was worried that They'd accidentally kill Hyde with one of their pranks.  Anyway...

This is scary real, and it's just like it was when I was a partying teenager.  I knew all those characters (except my friends weren't geniuses).  I even knew Alaska.  Except he was a boy named Mike.  A goregous god-like boy who any girl would feel lucky to be with.  He died drunk driving.  Last time I saw him he was in a coma.  It was life changing--but not life changing enough to get me and my friends to stop drinking and driving.  Luckily, we made it through those years relatively unschathed...
#41 - July 14, 2006, 09:43 AM

Athena529

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John Green has a new book out titled AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES. Has anyone read it yet?
#42 - September 28, 2006, 06:23 PM

almarrone

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I just finished it!  I really liked it, the mc's best friend was sooooo funny--such a great character. 
#43 - October 01, 2006, 06:59 AM

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I thought that a lot of Alaska's hotness stemmed from her sexuality. She was very experienced and vocal about it and that's always hot. Especially to teenage boys who think about sex like every five seconds.

Or is it every five minutes?  ;)
#44 - October 01, 2006, 09:02 AM

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Was I the only one who thought that the inexperience between Miles and the foreign girl (forgot her name, sorry) was humorous?

Makes a kind of a nice switch from hearing about those bracelet parties where kids know too much about this sort of thing.
#45 - October 01, 2006, 09:08 AM

I got a chuckle at that. It answered my question about "what are the limits in YA?" too.
#46 - October 01, 2006, 09:36 AM
Bazooka Joe says, I have the ability to become outstanding in literature.
http://samhranac.blogspot.com/

Or is it every five minutes?  ;)

As I recal it was measured by scientific equipment.
#47 - October 01, 2006, 09:37 AM
Bazooka Joe says, I have the ability to become outstanding in literature.
http://samhranac.blogspot.com/

Margherita

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I just finished reading the book yesterday.  I found it readable enough -- obviously the writer was the acknowledged best in his college creative writing class(es) -- but I agree with katep and Cynthia that Miles doesn't really *do* anything, which didn't work for me.  I also found the more "philosophical" the narrator got the more off-putting the book became to me ...  Overall, there didn't seem to be any new ground covered or any fresh perspectives offered, and the plot itself was, as the French waiter told the gluttonous diner, "wafer-thin."  Ditto the characterization.

I am truly baffled as to why some readers react in such a strongly positive way to this book.  I will certainly check out his second book to see if this is just a first book misstep by a rather young but potentially talented writer.
#48 - October 01, 2006, 01:12 PM

jules

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My daughter read this book last year when she was 15 and LOVED it. She said it was one of the best books she ever read and wanted it in hardback, something we only do for special books. But I read it and was not crazy about it (partly because I was thinking the whole time of the ideas that might've been going into/through my daughter's head as she read it--that all kids her age do the stuff the characters in the book did and she was somehow weird or immature if she didn't. The parent in me wants to keep her thoughts pure!) I saw where she would really like it, though.
#49 - October 01, 2006, 08:13 PM

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As I recal it was measured by scientific equipment.


 :n  They need scientific equipment to measure that? Haha.
#50 - October 02, 2006, 05:17 AM

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I thought Miles not doing anything was what part of what the novel was about. His non-action was an enabling factor in the events that led to Alaska's death.
 
Maybe a kid will read it and realize that his drunk friend isn't invincible and that they should not be out driving?



#51 - October 02, 2006, 05:22 AM

GreenBeans

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I agree with Sweetpea. I thought Miles reacting to those around him was part of his character, and thus, believeable for me. It explained why he had no friends at his old school. When his parents throw him that going away party and almost no one comes, that was heartbreaking.

I also liked the idea that teenagers are NOT invinceable, not even the mighty Alaska. It dealt with her death in a non-preachy way but real way.

Still, I'm not passing this one on to my young teen. There are things in there that she does not need to know. (maybe I'm being clueless and she already knows. Huh)

GB
#52 - October 02, 2006, 06:13 AM

The action of inaction. Hamlet got away with it. I can see teens frozen into inaction as much as taking bold action. As has been noted, it must stem from character.
#53 - October 02, 2006, 08:13 AM
Bazooka Joe says, I have the ability to become outstanding in literature.
http://samhranac.blogspot.com/

Margherita

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Just because his inaction was intentional didn't make it unboring.  :x

Author intention isn't everything.
#54 - October 02, 2006, 04:04 PM

I'm not saying it IS Hamlet. Just sighting a precedent.

In general I agree with your assessment.
#55 - October 02, 2006, 04:27 PM
Bazooka Joe says, I have the ability to become outstanding in literature.
http://samhranac.blogspot.com/

katep

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Just because his inaction was intentional didn't make it unboring. :x

That cracked me up, Margherita. 
#56 - October 02, 2006, 04:31 PM

Pickles

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Wow, I just read the first chapter of this, and the voice absolutely blows me away. It's like melting.

Umm, it's going to be hard to get all the household chores on my to do list done, today.

I'll come back when I read more.
#57 - October 30, 2006, 09:44 AM

Pickles

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Okay, I finished it. I've ignored the housework and the kids and made instant soup and grilled cheese for supper. I haven't been this swept away since reading Criss-Cross by Lynn Rae Perkins. Actually, I'm more swept. I was immediately drawn into the story and couldn't put it down because the voice was so strong, and the story swept me back to memories of my youth. And  well I'm still in awestruck mode, and having just lost a close friend, from those "first time on your own, growing up" days, I found it intensely emotional. This was a most excellent, gripping, cut you to the bone book.
#58 - October 30, 2006, 07:38 PM

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John is coming to a bookstore here on Friday and I can't wait.  I'm going to try to be cool, no drooling or otherwise acting like an idiot.  I forget that I'm old enough to be his mother (well, babysitter anyway) and I'm afraid I'm going to come off like his number one fan.   :-X

#59 - October 30, 2006, 09:22 PM
Transcendence (Walker) - June 2012
Sequel (Walker) - June 2013
Dirty Little Secrets (Walker) - Feb 2010
6:00 in SF - 2009
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Pickles

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Wow. Lucky you. Was he in Austin for a conference or is that my imagination?

Yes, I have to admit this book has kept me from sleeping. It haunts me.
#60 - October 31, 2006, 03:34 AM

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