Tuesday, December 30, 2014

More John Green

Looking for Alaska, John Green
Having not long ago laughed and held my heart through The Fault in Our Stars, I was looking forward to reading some more Green.  I am not a fan of this one.  Sorry, guys.
  • I was oddly fascinated by the boarding school stories and Green's humour, but found it nowhere near as funny as The Fault in Our Stars.
  • I appreciated the treatment of grief.
  • Buuuut...this novel features characters that wear their hardships like merit badges.  I often like flawed characters.  I do not enjoy people (in real life) who behave badly, consistently, explaining, "This is the way I am."  I consider that a huge cop-out, and I feel like this story features these types of people, and even glamorises them.  I wouldn't want my daughters to read this story and feel any tug towards emulating the female protag -- which they might -- given EVERYONE LOVES HER.  Yes, we can love one other, as broken and weak as we all are...but we don't have to resign ourselves to being beyond decency or being "bad people." 
  • I feel irritated, and all-out ticked off that this text is being circulated as YA.  I cringed more than once, as an adult, remembering teenage years and peers; handing this to a young person seems like a poor choice to me.  There is plenty of room for a reader to interpret the text as licence for misbehaviour...and I actually think it makes no suggestion there is much of an alternative -- all of the characters are all about misbehaving, by my standards, and there doesn't appear to be any other way of acceptable way of approaching life presented or even hinted at.  I get that teenagers experiment.  I get that it is a time of finding yourself.  But present some avenues!  Sheesh -- you do not have to be morally repugnant...there is more than one road.  Key note here: LOADS of mature content.  And not just mature stuff, offensive-to-many stuff.  There is too much cussin' to count, explicit sexual references, references to pornography, drug use, discussion of suicide...the gamut, folks.
  • That said -- if this text is read reflectively, later, I can see some merit.  But as I say, I am uncomfortable about giving this text to someone while still in those defining years.  And many of my peers wouldn't enjoy it, even at a later age.
  • Symbolism is pounded home pretty self-consciously.

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