Looking for Alaska, Spoiler, I didn’t Find Her

I promptly decided, after reading The Fault in Our Stars, that I better get through Looking for Alaska before moving on to anything that may cheer me up and sway me from going back to the depressing honesty of life that is John Green’s prose.image

For such a positive, well spoken, and brilliant mind, Green is serious obsessed with the grief, guilt, morbidity, and anguish of teenage death. I realize that many “youth oriented” books do not address this issue truthfully or have any inclination as to how they may approach it, so in that sense Green is actually providing a service to the masses.

Considering all Green’s talent, skill, and insight I do wish he would write something that wouldn’t depress me! Yes, life is depressing, people die, we live on, etc, etc, and it’s not all the end of the world, we forgive and we move on and we even forget. I get it. I was looking for more philosophical insight into my soul… sorry, but I was.

Looking for Alaska is a good read. It portrays the teenage mind accurately, as did The Fault in Our Stars. It’s not as dismal as the later and it even threw in a chuckle now and again. But, Green’s obsession with teenage death really doesn’t sit the best with me. I’ve lived through grief, it’s not fun, and while I can see why Green wants to bring these issues to the present mind I don’t really enjoy delving into it all that often. I guess reading these books as I recover from minor surgery with a few complications isn’t really the best time to read books about death.

Anywho, it’s very well written and worth a read if you want to get a sad, sinking, mortal feeling in your gut. Best left for a sad rainy day where you’re not particularly sad, but don’t want something happy-go-lucky to read.

I think I’m going to delving into some fantasy reading for a bit, or at least some Tom Robbins to tickle my funny bone.

Cheers and be well!


I think you’d better.

So, I have this habit, this terrible habit really, of reading the back cover or jacket of a book and then purchasing it. Usually, I end up with a great book and I’m completely happy with my purchase. But, once in a while I experience extreme buyer’s remorse. This is one of those times.

I picked up Grow Up by Ben Brooks quite some time again but never really got around to reading it. I should have left it on my shelf. grow-up

Normally I admire most people who finish writing a book and apparently Brooks has published five books including this particular travesty. This book is so poorly written. I felt like I was reading the journal of an eleven year old boy who was trying to sound sixteen. It was painful.

Now, the cover says “Makes you snort with laughter” -Noel Fielding. Personally, I love a good laugh, heck if a snort is involved all the better! I found no such part of this book funny.

Usually in a book with little plot the author focuses entirely on character development. I’m sorry Brooks, you have no such thing in your book. The ONLY development I noticed is that the socio-path of a main character figured out when it’s not a good time to have an erection. I feel like I need to hit Brooks over the nose with a newspaper.

This “novel” (for I cringe to give it that title), is about a self-centered, asshole of a teenager who’s always smoking, getting high on whatever drug he manages to get his hands on,  trying to fuck every girl in sight, and to top it all off thinks his step-dad is a murderer. Some how he does manage to sleep with girls, but being a female myself I can’t help but think, “who in their right mind would EVER sleep with this kid?” Jasper, the main character, is not charismatic, not witty, or affectionate, or loveable in ANY way. Even if you’re a girl who opens herself to any passer by you’d still be iffy about this one. Brooks, I did not buy into your story one bit.

This book is just Brooks peddling his teenage fantasies and calling it fiction. Don’t misunderstand me, I know very well that teenagers get up into all kinds of dirty, nasty, drugy things. But this is just too much.

On the book jacket it even says that Brooks was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. My reaction: “WHAT?!”

I always worry that when I get around to writing something it wont be good enough to be published. But it publishers are stooping to publishing this kind of terrible writing then I have no worries for my future.

Please, spare yourself the pain and avoid Grow Up. I know my copy will be in the nearest Book Donation bin within the hour.

Not Exactly “Youth” Oriented

So blog-asphere, I’m still alive! If you can believe it. I realize I’ve been absent for the past month or so, but life is cracking down hard lately so my passions get pushed aside.

I did, however, manage to read a short little youth fiction called The Prince of the Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The first novel I read by Zafon was Shadow of the Wind about six years ago. I loved it. I proceeded to tell everyone to read it. Being a scrappy teen at the time I didn’t think about authors as having more than one book unless I saw them in box set. (My brain just didn’t function properly or logically back then. Let’s blame it on the hormone cocktail that was stewing within me.) So, when my best friend recently told me that she finally got around to reading Shadow of the Wind, Zafon popped back into my head. She also showed me that Shadow of the Wind is in fact a trilogy. Which is also on my reading list.

But back to The Prince of the Mist. Originally I had picked up The Midnight Palace by Zafon at my local book store. Once home I realized that it was a sequel. I proceeded to curse myself for not checking that first and began to hunt for its predecessor, The Prince of Mist. Of course, lovely as book stores are, they didn’t seem to have this novel. Originally published in 1993 and reprinted in 2010, I could see why this book was so illusive. Finally I tracked it down on one for my favourite discount websites, The Book Depository.

The Prince of Mist is supposedly a “young” adult novel. I really despise the aging of books. If I wanted to read an adult fiction at thirteen I did, and if at twenty-two I want to read a book for twelve year olds I damn well will, and I’ll usually enjoy it too! Anyways, The Prince of Mist, while an easy read, is one of the creepier books I’ve read. Zafon has a flair for the eerie. His books generally involve the deaths of a few characters and mysteries you can’t help but finish out of curiosity. I wouldn’t recommend him to a younger crowd, due to the nightmares they’ll most likely endure if they read before bed.

Overall, The Prince of Mist is a quick, easy, read that keeps you on the edge of your seat, bed, hammock, beanbag chair, kitchen counter, staircase, grassy knoll, whatever it is you choose to read on.

Ps. If you are afraid of clowns I wouldn’t recommend reading The Prince of Mist. It even creeped me out and I have nothing against clowns.

Impostor! I knew it!

As I continue my venture into the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix, Among the Impostors is my second triumph. As I mentioned before, when I finished Among the Hidden I was weary about starting its sequel. But whatever Haddix seemed to lack in the first, she more than made up for in it’s sequel. 

I finally felt a sense of agency! Yes, things happened! They were stressful! I felt anxious! (I feel that the exclamation points are necessary here). I even felt for Luke, the main character, something that was lacking in Among the Hidden

Even though this book never ventured far from the setting of Hendrix’s School for Boys, it was an enjoyable book. The bland setting countered the extreme anxiety and self-doubt that was clear in Luke, something I clearly remember feeling at a twelve-year-old, although not the extent of Luke’s character. I never had to worry about getting killed for existing.

I was a little disappointed at the end, although Luke found strength in himself he didn’t know he had and matured it seemed that his final decision was a step in the wrong direction. At least he should have attained more information than just saying “No.” I could be wrong, it’s happened on occasion, but I’ll only find out once I read the next book in the series, Among the Betrayed. 

This book is a good quick read, unfortunately you wouldn’t quite understand it without first reading Among the Hidden.

They were Hidden alright.

So, a few days back I finished Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix. So, after many years of wanting to read this book again, since I had in seventh grade I finally did. It’s a very quick read.

ImageMy initial reaction was disappointment, I remembered there being more action, more thrills. But, that could have just been my over-active 13 year-old imagination that I remembered. I also found that the emotion didn’t quite show through. Haddix wrote it down but I couldn’t seem to feel it as the characters, like I usually do. It’s as if that final push in the writing that je ne sais quois that brings a reader into the story, sympathizing and relating. It was teetering on the edge, I could almost feel what Luke, the illegal third child and main character, was feeling but it felt, for lack of a better word, flat. As I delve into the sequel, Among the Impostors I’m already feeling that Haddix is closer to getting Luke’s emotions across.

As it stands on its own Among the Hidden is very anti-climactic. It’s basically all the information you need to understand, Among the Impostors. If I had not known there was a sequel, I would have thought it was a terrible book. I think it would have been better as a Part One combined with Among the Impostors. Both books are under 200 pages, so my thinking is that originally it was one book, but the publishers, in all their wisdom, decided to break it up because this novel’s target audience is about 12, an audience that would not have the longest attention span. Also, by breaking it up there are more books to buy, hence more money. Oh publishers, I know what you’re scheming.

Anyways, if you decide to delve into Among the Hidden, be prepared to delve into the whole Shadow Children series, because if you don’t you will be highly underwhelmed.

And may the odds be ever at your disadvantage.

So, I did it. I finished The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It’s one of the few times I’ve finished a best selling series relatively on time.

I decided to read The Hunger Games in anticipation for the movie, knowing I wouldn’t be able to read the book if I’d seen the movie first so I willed myself to get through it quickly.

It was a unique idea, not the post-apocolyptic dystopia of course, but the idea that the death of youth was simultaneously a punishment and entertainment, not necessarily original, but unique none the less. The time it took for the book to actually get to the arena was a little bit drawn out. A lot of it just felt like filler to make the book longer. But it ended leaving the reader anticipating more. President Snow became a villain you love to hate.

As I moved on to Catching Fire I had my doubts, because sequels are usually the explanation book, less action more detail. I found myself thinking constantly that I was reading a mesh of A Brave New World with the Capitol as the civilized world and the districts as the god-fearing savage lands, only the “god” they feared was really just the Capitol, and 1984. Only, these too combined were slightly dumbed down and presented in shiny packaging for youth with a relatable character to rally around. I also found Katniss’s character remarkable inconsistent. I realize that she was supposed to be unstable, but she kept jumping back and forth from stable to unstable, to dysfunctional, to highly functional, which I found to be very unrealistic and forced. Either she’s traumatized or she’s handling it like a pro, pick on would you Collins?

And finally, after finishing Mockingjay literally moments ago, I found that the inconsistency of Katniss began to reflect in Gale as well. Gale values life, but then he doesn’t. Over and over. Katniss, although more stable during battle at the end seems to clear up just in to time make a world-altering decision and then retreats back into her traumatized state… convenient. You could argue that Collins kept us up to date on what was going on inside Katniss, but I didn’t feel like her thoughts were enough to motivate the actions that followed. But that could just be me… apparently a lot of people loved the trilogy.

If you disregard these discrepancies then The Hunger Games Trilogy will be a lovely escape into a world far worse than your own.

Apparently this summer I’m delving into the dystopia genre pretty hard. I’m going to attempt The Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I read the first as a seventh grader for school, but I remember the story always seemed just a little more than I could understand so here I am venturing back into this broken society as an adult, or whatever version of an adult I may represent at this point.