Looking for Alaska by John Green
Last week I read the John Green novel Looking for Alaska. This novel follows the main character Miles Halter (Pudge) who transfers to a boarding school hoping to find what he calls his “Great Perhaps”. At the school, he becomes friends with four other characters: Alaska, Chip (General), Takumi, and Lara. Pudge becomes infatuated with Alaska, even though she has a boyfriend at the time, and at times, seems to be fighting her own demons within herself. After Alaska’s unexpected death, Pudge and his friends try to search for the truth in what happened during Alaska’s final moments, not only for her but also for themselves.
When I started this novel, I had great hopes. I had read a lot of great reviews on the book and had been wanting to read it for over a year. After I started the book, I have to say that it did take me quite a while to really get into it. It seemed at the beginning that this was just another predictable teenage novel with all the characters that one would expect to find: the boy searching for himself who falls for the unattainable girl, his friend who is a prankster and trouble-maker, the mysterious beautiful girl who has secrets, and the girl who the main character goes out with because he can’t get the girl of his dreams.
The story itself did seem to follow the predictable course, as half-way through, I had already guessed that Alaska would end up dying. I did enjoy the book although, I can’t say that this was my favorite. I do think that the book has a good message for teens especially at the end when Pudge writes his final paper about forgiveness and believing that in the end, we go somewhere even if we are not sure where that is.
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
I also read Joelle Charbonneau’s novel The Testing. This is a Dystopian novel set after the world has been decimated by what we presume were nuclear bombs. The book starts on what is called “Graduation Day”. Cia Vale is the main character who is hoping to be chosen for what is called “The Testing”. All that is known about “The Testing” is that it is something that is very prestigious. We quickly begin to realize that “The Testing” is not what it appears to be, especially when it is learned that Cia’s father also was chosen when he was younger and has no recollection of what happened besides some reoccurring “nightmares”. Throughout the story, we follow Cia as she navigates through the “tests” and learns that failing is not an option.
This book was recommended to me by my best friend two years ago as she had read it for an Adolescent Literature class she was taking at that time. I had bought the book but never had time to read it. I was a huge fan of The Hunger Games and Divergent and was sure that I would also enjoy this series. It definitely didn’t disappoint. Even though it does follow in the same footsteps as the two other Dystopian series; a strong female protagonist with a male counterpart, I still was able to be transported into that world. It also has enough variation from the other two series as to not make you feel like you are just re-reading the same story. I do believe that anyone who enjoys Dystopian genre would enjoy this series just as much. It’s always nice to find a strong female lead that girls especially can read about.