Looking for Alaska By John Green

Title: Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green

Publisher: Speak

First Published: 3rd March 2005

Blurb:

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same. (From Goodreads, 1st December 2013)

Review:

‘Looking for Alaska’ is a coming of age novel following Miles Halter aka Pudge when he moves to Culver Creek Boarding School. Pudge’s roommate befriends him and introduces him to Alaska Young, a young girl with an explosive personality. We follow these characters through the school year, we follow the highs and lows, the pranks, the pay back pranks.

I enjoyed ‘Looking for Alaska’, but it did not live up to the hype. After reading ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ multiple people recommended ‘Looking for Alaska’ so I was really looking forward to jumping into it. I loved the premise, I loved the characters, and I did generally enjoy the book, but it didn’t blow me away by any means. It is a well written book, and one I would suggest to many young adults and teenagers to read.

‘Looking for Alaska’ is a good novel with multiple layers, but lacked the ‘wow factor’ that I some how expected. However, although this sounds like I didn’t enjoy ‘Looking for Alaska’, that is not true, I did enjoy it. I enjoy John Greens writing style and I enjoyed this book. It is a book about a young boys relationships, and his journey towards adulthood, along with the good and bad that comes with this journey. But as an adult reader this book didn’t connect to me as it may once have.

A skilled author, that deals with difficult subjects, and an author for teens and young adults to try if they have not already. But for me, I would say I read this book too late.

4 out of 5

The Future of Us By Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Title: The Future of Us

Author: Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

First Published: 21st November 2011

Blurb:

It’s 1996 and very few high school students have ever used the internet. Facebook will not be invented until several years in the future. Emma just got a computer and an America Online CD. She and her best friend Josh power it up and log on – and discover themselves on Facebook in 2011. Everybody wonders what they’ll be like fifteen years in the future. Josh and Emma are about to find out. (From Goodreads, 25th July 2013)

Review:

This is the second book I have read by Jay Asher, the first being Thirteen Reasons Why. Unlike Thirteen Reasons Why I had not heard many reviews of this novel, I had seen it mentioned in hauls and such but other than that I have stayed away from reviews as all the hyped reviews of Thirteen Reasons Why led me to be disappointed.

The Future of Us is so much better, in my opinion, than Thirteen Reasons Why. This is a fun novel which tackles some coming of age issues in a unique fashion. Imagine connecting to the internet for the first time at home and seeing your future. Seeing your future spelt out in short sentences and an online profile. Facebook is on the screen. But what happens if you don’t like your future? What happens if you find out small changes lead to big changes in your future?

I loved the unique way this novel looked at learning how to let yourself love, and be honest to your friends, whilst mixed with the teenage drama that never changes, no matter what year it is. A flashback to the years before the normality of the internet and social networks. A nice mix of the past and the future. A quick and witty story, that keeps you entertained the whole way through.

This is a definite read for young adults and for those who enjoy the young adult genre and remember life before the internet.

4 out of 5

Send By Patty Blount

Title: Send

Author: Patty Blount

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

UK Publication Date: 1st November 2012

Blurb:

It’s been five years since I clicked Send.

Four years since I got out of Juvie.

Three months since I changed my name

Two minutes since I met Julie.

A second to change my life.

On his first day at his new high school, Dan stops a bully from beating up a kid half his size. He didn’t want to get involved. All he really wants out of his senior year is to fly under the radar. But Dan knows what it’s like to be terrorized by a bully-he used to be one. Now the whole school thinks he’s some kind of hero, except Julie Murphy, the prettiest girl on campus. She looks at him like she knows he has a secret. Like she knows his name isn’t really Daniel.

Review:

We are in a new age of bullying. No longer seen by teachers or parents. Technology has taken over our lives and this allows bullies to get to their victims any time via mobiles, internet, and gaming, thus increasing incidents of ‘gang bullying’ where attacks can come from many others – who previously would not say anything – publicly on social networking sites, for example. Many people can now comment, laugh and join in the taunting without necessarily feeling like the traditional bully. This novel tackles this new type of bulling and shows the true destruction it causes. It shows the destruction it can cause to both the victims, their families and the bully.

Our protagonist Dan has a dark secret that he tries to hide but is unable to stay out of trouble when he takes it upon himself to look out for Brandon. Brandon is bullied relentlessly and Dan cannot just watch. Not this time.

Patty Blount has taken an interesting take on this novel by casting Dan as the protagonist – compared to more traditional bullying books where the victim is the protagonist. This is a striking idea and helps show the pain Dan goes through knowing that his partaking in cyber bullying pushed one kid over the edge to kill himself. Dan suffered. Dan is still suffering. This is why he can’t watch Brandon continue to go through hell without at least one friend at his side.

Being British means I do not know much about American High Schools except from what I have learned from watching TV and previous books. This book will be easier to read for Americans but is still very relevant for others. A book that teachers and parents must read to understand how things have changed. One for teens to read to learn from, to relate too, and to understand. To understand that there is no easy answers but there are better options.

Send has discussion questions that would be perfect in the classroom. A novel we can all learn from, written at an accessible level with many issues built into one. It deals primarily with bullying but also deals with grief, loss, punishment, mental illness, growth, love and many more.

A novel capturing the truly destructive nature of humanity but the healing nature of time and hindsight.Yet without discounting the scars time cannot heal.

I will give this a 4 out of 5

Among Others By Jo Walton

Blub from Amazon:

Winner of the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Winner of the 2011 Nebula Award for Best Novel. Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.

I did not really enjoy this novel but think many other who like fantasy will. A novel written in diary format by our protagonist Mor. Mor is a young adult who has a past we being to learn about as the novel progresses. She has a bad leg. A dead twin. An absent mother. A knowledge of magic. A fascination with Science fiction and fantasy novels.
Despite all these possible avenues to provide an interesting plot I feel Jo Walton failed. However, there are many others who disagree with me on that count.
Mor is different from her peers and this is very apparent as soon as she starts at a new school, a boarding school in which her previously estranged father has placed her. Through the diary entries we learn where Mor has come from and how she adapts to a new town and a new situation.
A coming of age novel with a twist into the realm of fantasy, magic and relationships.
For me the constant lists of novels that Mor has read or is currently reading distracted me as I do not read fantasy or science fiction and thus had not read any of the novels that were talked about and only recognised a few authors who were mentioned. However I can image for readers of these genres it would add another layer of understanding into the characters and the understanding of Mor’s life.
For me this is a 3 out of 5. Interesting ideas but not enough plot for me.

Rape Girl By Alien Klein

  Rape girl is a skillfully written novel about a 16 year old girl, Valarie, who is raped by a fellow student at her school, Adam. However, the students at her school take Adams side and increase Valarie’s alienation and suffering.

Alien Klein herself was a victim of rape and this shines through in her tactful writing of such a delicate subject matter. This novel is aimed at young adults and I think it is a must for all teens to read a novel like this. Although it is aimed more at females I think many males can learn a valuable lesson. No means NO.

Reporting rape is a hard thing to do, never mind having to deal with the fallout it causes and the alienation that Valarie faces. But no matter what, Valarie knows she has done the right thing. She knows she was raped. She attempts to press charges even though she was bullied for trying to. Rape is hard. But learning who your real friends are is a valuable lesson on the journey to adulthood.Valarie grows due to this tragic attack but will forever be scarred.

A novel expressing one of the under reported crimes that can rip peoples lives apart. But access to novels like this is a must for teens and adults alike to show that through strength you can get through and learn from such an experience and grow into a stronger and more understanding person.

4 out of 5

The Most Beautiful Thing By Fiona Robyn

   Have you ever read a book and it just pulls you in from the first word. The name is a perfect description of the writing style. Beautiful.

This novel is written in two sections. First section is when Joe is 14 and is sent to his Aunts in Amsterdam. He is having a hard time at home and at school and buries himself in books about birds or whatever his current interest is.

You see the way Joe views his Aunts life. She is a painter and doesn’t live according to the usual 9-5 pattern of his home life. There is a slow pace to the first section but the writing is just so beautiful that you cannot put it down.

The second section picks up pace and is set when Joe is 29 and returns, for the first time since his trip at 14, to Amsterdam. We learn about why at 14 he was troubled and why his life and his Aunts takes the turns that they do.

It is an excellent book that is written so gracefully that I would want everyone to read it. I book to buy and pass on. To talk about. To think about. But beware tissues may need to be on the arm of the coach, the bedside table or wherever you are reading this beautiful novel.

The Earth Hums in B Flat By Mari Strachan

I had wanted to read this book after seeing it reviewed in a Waterstones store about a year ago. I took advantage in an online offer and got reading it that very day. I loved the writing, the narrator, Gwenie, is a naive 12 year old girl whom lives in a crowded Welsh house lacking any comforts. Her imaginative nature and ability to see things in a way only children can is a constant frustration to her mother.
We soon learn a member of the community has been found dead and a more sinister twist emerges in the novel, Gwenie trying to figure out what happened while unearthing family ‘secrets’ which her mother can’t bear to be revealed.
To me this book was written beautifully and I think it was that which pulled me through to the end. I worked out quickly what had happened to the man and Gwenie’s family and thus was shocked when there was nothing else and I had just been reading words which didn’t take me anywhere.

I would say read if you like beautiful writing but if you need a good plot to take to the end maybe give this a miss.

Luke and Jon By Robert Williams

Luke’s Mother has just died in a car crash and his Father can no longer afford their house and they are forced to move to a decrepit house on a hillside in a dull town that neither have heard of. Luke has a love for painting and a propensity of accepting those who are usually rejected.

Jon has a photographic memory and lives in the house, with his grandparents, further down the hill side. He is bullied at school but begins a friendship with Luke before school starts by appearing unannounced at the door early each morning.

Both have adult issues to deal with and find friendship and a mutual understanding of one another.

This is a novel that has several ‘big’ issues in it yet to me seemed to lack a real plot to push you along to the end. I was interested in the fact Lukes mother was Bipolar, yet it was only brushed on a few times.

If you want a gentle book to read this is for you. It is well written but does not have a driving force pushing you through and fails to take an in-depth look at the issues presented in the book.