Posts tagged ‘lookingforalaska’

May 23rd, 2010

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: An Abundance of Katherines

Author: John Green

Published: September 21, 2006

Number of Pages: 256

Rating: 4/5


When it comes to girls (and in Colin’s case, it so often did), everyone has a type. Colin Singleton’s type was not physical but linguistic: he liked Katherines. And not Katies or Kats or Kitties or Cathys or Rynns or Trinas or Kays or Kates or, god forbid, Catherines. K-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E. He had dated 19 girls. All of them had been named Katherine. And all of them- every single solitary one- had dumped him.”


It should now be a universally acknowledged fact that John Green is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. He somehow manages to hook me, as a reader, in the first thirty seconds. Goodness, after Looking for Alaska swept me off my feet, I’m hooked before I even open the book. I approach a John Green book prepared to be amazed.

Consequently, I could have been drastically disappointed with An Abundance of Katherines, but, alas, I was not, and Green managed to blow me away and into a neighboring galaxy once again. The book didn’t top Looking for Alaska, but I don’t believe many books ever will – at least, within the YA genre.

This novel was a bit less plot-oriented, which is saying a lot, because, in my opinion, Alaska was extremely character-driven. There was the same natural, easy-going hilarity to keep me reading, and the characters were outstanding as well.

Colin is a child prodigy. But not a genius. Definitely not a genius.

After being dumped by his nineteenth consecutive Katherine, he is convinced by his outrageously hilarious and lovable friend, Hassan, to go on a road trip before heading off to college. Eager to be distracted by anything, Colin tells Hassan to take the exit to visit the “official resting site” of the Archduke Ferdinand. Met by Lindsey Lee Wells, a girl whose face is transformed by her smile, they are persuaded to stay the summer with her and her mother.

It’s the very day they go to Gutshot (Tennessee), that Colin has his “Eureka! moment,” and comes up with an extremely mathematical equation that just might be able to predict the outcome of any relationship. Though he tries to focus on developing his theorem, life in Gutshot, and more specifically, life in the very pink house owned by Hollis, Lindsey’s mother, proves to be beyond distracting…

I loved this book. I ate it up like it was the caramel brownie Blizzard I’ve been wanting desperately to try at Dairy Queen.

Colin’s a fantastic main character, and he’s easy to root for, though I occasionally wanted to give him a good slap and tell him to snap out of it. His prodigy-status and his love of anagrams made him quite unique, and it was interesting to be able to watch the proceedings of his mind.

Lindsey and Hassan were light, cheery, and hilarious characters. However, as I read more of John Green’s books, I find that many of the characters carry from book-to-book. An Alaska-wannabe can be found in this book and in Paper Towns. I don’t mean to say that the “wannabes” are irritatingly similar. They’re still themselves, and I love all of them, but they seem strikingly similar at times. Even the main characters seem relatively the same, their voices occasionally so similar that I don’t believe I could tell them apart. Luckily, every character, disregarding the potential over-usage, is so wonderful that you never want them to leave, and their “reappearances” ensure that your want for Green’s characters is satiated.

An Abundance of Katherines is a well-written, humorous, and lighthearted book about a boy who has an unhealthy and unrewarding hankering for girls named Katherine and his subsequent journey to overcome said hankering. It was much more appropriate than Alaska, and the “F” word had fewer mentions, although they did use a replacement for it. As far as sexual content goes, this book wasn’t very dirty, and I felt more comfortable than I did during particular scenes in Alaska.

Overall, I stand by my assertion that John Green has become one of my favorite authors of YA literature. The hilarity that seems to come naturally to both him and his books is something that cannot be ignored, and his collection of characters is incredible.

I recommend this book to all lovers of Looking For Alaska and/or Paper Towns, but I’d like to make it clear that this book is simpler and less convoluted. However, it was fantastic. Fabulous. Fantabulous. Fabtastic.

And, no, that last one wasn’t a word, but, in the spirit of Colin Singleton, here’s a good anagram for “fabulous”:

A Bus Foul

Why don’t you think that one over for a while?

April 13th, 2010

Looking for Alaska by John Green; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green

Published: December 28, 2006

Number of Pages: 256

Rating: 5/5


So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”


This is a book that is everything. Everything that we believe matters and everything that we think doesn’t but really does. It encompasses all and displays all for its reader to see.

Love, hope, forgiveness, sorrow, uncontrollable fury, suspense, resignation, laughter, sarcasm, rebellion, idiocy, mind-boggling questions. Everything that makes literature interesting, that makes characters lovable or hate-worthy or simply intriguing. Everything that makes life. And it’s all in Looking for Alaska; inexplicably contained within roughly two hundred and fifty pages and two pieces of shiny, thumb-print stained paper.

Pudge (honestly, I can’t remember his real name), an ironically lanky sixteen-year-old boy, becomes set on discovering the Great Perhaps and decides to go to a boarding school miles and miles from home. There, he meets the Colonel (his roommate), Takumi, Lara, and Alaska Young.

Alaska is a fascinating girl. The kind that holds the answers to all the questions you’re dying to ask her but absolutely refuses to give them. She frustrates Pudge, befriends him, and “makes” him fall in love with her. She’s a pain in the butt and she’s a miracle. She’s bubbly and mopey. The only thing predictable about her is her unpredictability.

But that’s all Before. Before the After. Before the Moment. When Alaska goes and does something unpredictable.

That’s when the sorrow, the hatred, and the guilt arise. Everything seems to be rolling downhill, so swiftly that Pudge has a difficult time assessing where he is before he’s somewhere else entirely. Piecing together bits of Alaska’s character, answering seemingly unanswerable questions, etc. become necessary for Pudge – and the rest of the people Alaska has affected – to keep on functioning.

And this book is incredible. It belongs in the YA literature hall of fame.

John Green’s style of writing has ultimately become one of my favorites. He can embody great meaning in so few words. It’s astounding. He isn’t afraid to speak philosophically on occasion and does so in a way that any teenager could understand. This book is thought-provoking. Literally provoking. It’s like an itch. Or a tick.

Every character in Looking for Alaska is amazing. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I loved most of them, and the few I “hated”, I loved to hate. It’s a win-win for the reader. Especially wonderful was the main character. His voice was strong, and every word, every action, was in character. His likability is inarguable. He was intellectual at times but entirely a sixteen-year-old boy. I also appreciated that all of the main characters were smart in their own way. Of course, they made stupid decisions as well, but I imagine they could talk incessantly and not bore you with ridiculous gossip. They were witty, clever, and entertaining. I would think I’d stepped into some sublime world if I could only carry on a conversation with them (and technically, I would have had to, as they are fictional).

I did have a problem with some of the content, though. There was way too much swearing for my taste, and the “F” word became pretty frequent. If I ever lend this book out (which I certainly will), I’m going to search the pages for ridiculous profanity and scribble it out. I don’t enjoy writing in books, for the most part, but my tolerance has a limit. There was also a scene I skipped over completely. It was revolting (pages 126-128, approximately).

Now that I might have entirely talked you out of this book, let me rewind and say that, yes, these kids make some really crappy, naughty decisions at times, but they are good people. Wonderful people. Just skip the bits of crap (especially pages 126-128!).

Looking for Alaska is a masterpiece. It’s $8.99 price at Borders is an outrage, but ideal, considering how many people want to read and reread it. I’m certain that I will read this book dozens of times before my dying day.

Frankly, it’s just one of those astounding reads. It’s a greatly affecting story, one that readers will love and eat up for years. It’s amazing, how simple love is. Love for books especially. It’s just there, undeniable, unfaltering. Thrilling.

Read Looking for Alaska. Sure, you might want to find a scribbled-on copy. Make sure to censor as much as possible. But the story’s beneath the cuss words and occasional nastiness. The characters are there, too. Uncover them and let them breathe. They’ll speak to you.

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