Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Looking for Alaska (copy)

I have a new favorite author, John Green. I haven’t even finished the book and am in love with him. The book is Looking for Alaska and in 2006 it won the edgy Printz Award.

Oh, you have not heard of this award? Do not worry. It is new. As part of the American Library Association’s plethora of awards the website states, “The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. It is named for a Topeka, Kansas school librarian who was a long-time active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association.”

Most Printz award books are written in a style called realistic fiction. This genre of fiction exposes readers to adult situations such as drinking, drugs, and sex allowing them to live vicariously through the main young-adult characters. Not as a cautionary tale per se, for these characters can make really bad decisions and get away with them, but as a rich telling of today’s society mirrored in books.

In Looking for Alaska, Miles Halter, quickly nicknamed Pudge by his new roommate because he is so skinny, is attending the Culver Creek Preparatory School in Fair Hope, Alabama. This is his first year and roommate, Chip “Colonel” Martin, is filling him in on the goings and comings of his new school. Pudge learns quickly the kids are broken into two groups: the Weekday Warriors who have money and spend their weekends at home and “the wrong crowd.” As a middle class student who will be spending all his semesters on campus, he correctly deducts he will be a member of the wrong crowd.

Entering “The Creek” is all Pudge’s idea. His father and his father’s father and his grandfather’s father all attended, but that isn’t his reason. He is going to this school—miles away from his Florida home—in order to seek the “Great Perhaps.”

See, Pudge has a quirky talent. He memorizes the dying words of famous people. His favorite, Francois Rabelais, gasped, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” He figures he will seek while alive.

Looking for Alaska is broken into two parts: before and after. In the before section the chapters are titled in countdown fashion like “one hundred one days before.” I hate to be vague, but there is a huge possibility I will give away the ending if not. I will tell you that Alaska is a knock-out female character who causes the before and after.

Another point of view from Tricia at Library Queue.

18 comments:

Keetha said...

Intriguing! You've piqued my interest - I'll have to check it out.

maggie moran said...

He has a cult like following, Keetha. Makes me a little uneasy, but also cool at the same time. :)

April said...

This sounds really really good!! I am going to add it to my list!

maggie moran said...

Oh, I'm surprised you haven't read this already, April! ;) Be ready for teenage pranks and angst.

SevenVillageIdiarts said...

OK, I've got to read this one because of the title alone!

Lisa said...

Oh, this does sound interesting. Thanks for the review!

maggie moran said...

Good point,7Idiarts. I remember reading a Pearson b/c it had Alaska in the title, too! I warn ya - it is getting a cult like following among teens.

Shure, Lisa, and thanks for stopping by to read my dribble. I'm in some kind of funk lately and I find these booktalks take longer and longer to write. I need to snap out of it! :D

Debi said...

Great review, Maggie! It definitely is one of those books that's hard to write about without giving too much away. I absolutely loved this book, for many, many reasons!

Anonymous said...

Great review...it turned me into a fan, too.

maggie moran said...

Why thank yew, Debi! I'm afraid to read An Abundance of Katherines after enjoying this one so much!

Great, Softdrink, maybe I'll rush through AAofK without any regrets. :)

tinylittlelibrarian said...

I really liked this one, too - it was pretty amazing! I've got his newest, Paper Towns, on my TBR list for this year.

maggie moran said...

Ew, I look forward to reading about Paper Towns from you, Tiny Little Librarian.

Isabel said...

Is the cult reaching Harry Potter or the S. Meyer levels yet.

Interesting review!!

maggie moran said...

Oh, no, WW100. More of a Clockwork Orange or the Rocky Horror Picture Show movie phenomenon. For example, the title character, Alaska, has teens across the continent doing death date tributes. Check out YouTube Alaska memorials. Sorry, I should have been more specific in my writing.

Lisa said...

I loved this one too, but haven't read the others yet.

maggie moran said...

I'm thinking I'll let Katherines sit awhile and come back to it in the summer months, Lisa. Just so I can enjoy it more. ;)

Isabel said...

Maggie, it's not you. It's I.

Sometimes I like to ask weird questions.

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