Hi! My name is Anna, "You'd really like me if you got to know me. I've known me for years and I love me."
Word count: about 70 000
Rating: An interesting ride (even if a bit defective)
I have a question. Why do all teenagers study when the author has no better story-filler to give them? Why not sleep all day, play video games, do crack and mess around with hookers or go on a killing spree? Or just watch cardboard exist? Real people don't go 'oh, my main story is on hold, well, I better study for now'. Seriously, In so many books the best thing for grades is to have no life. It's like poor teens absently gravitate toward books when otherwise unoccupied. Have you ever played the sims? Do you know what sims do when you give them no tasks? THEY FUCK AROUND! Not give in to the primal urge to pursue an academic career!
In general, I'm confused. I couldn't decide on the rating for the longest time. Now I have to justify why I rated it so high despite some issues. As far as first books go, it's a fine work. Green kept it simple and that's why, in the end, it works. Focused, one track story and consistent, fairly logical and realistic (even if simplified) characters is a really good going.
Now, let's start with the flaws, shall we?
- A difference between a prank and being an asshole.
Maybe I'm not fun. But I don't think endangering someone's health/life or destruction of property can be considered a prank. I know the line is very thin. I know. But for me pranks are, in the essence, harmless. And fixing the damage does not take months/years.
Which gets us to some blatant moronic unrealism. John Green, what the actual fuck?! I know teens can act without thought. I know they can be self obsessed, selfish, rush, overly dramatic, narrow-minded and so on, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone stupid enough to pull some of the shit described in this book.
I'm talking about one situation at the beginning. No one would be stupid enough to take revenge on a guy by putting his a random guy's life at risk. Yes, because you suspect someone did something you disapprove of, you're going to almost kill a person that had nothing to do with said actions/events and doesn't even know a guy you blame? Seriously? Would anyone, ANYONE, no matter how self-absorbed and lacking imagination be that stupid?!
And that's just one of many delightful senseless, unrealistic annoyances.
- Seriously, can you find any teens (not just boys) that don't watch porn? Who read porn magazines? And who don't know what a blow-job is? Couldn't you, like, google it when you've first heard of such a confusing thing?
And no cellphones on campus?
Who uses payphones? Do they even still exist?
Why no one had ANY electronic devices?
- Is it even possible to have literally no friends? I get it that you may not love them, but to have no people to casually hang out with, at least during school? Do you put babies heads on spikes or something? I mean, I'm an antisocial, shy introvert (and a mean bitch). I'm horrible at human interactions and even I had some friends (whom I didn't really like all that much, more like tolerated, but you do what you can at the time). At this point my rating was around 1,5 stars.
- Do people really have nicknames? Is that a thing in the USA? I'm curious. Please, let me know.
- On the subject of me not being fun... could you STOP LITTERING! I dare you, I double dare you motherfucker. Throw a cigarette butt on the ground one more time and I will shove it up your ass so hard, and so deep, you'll feel it at your tonsils and be able to take one more puff. Your last. I know that teens littering is not unrealistic, just rage-inducing (told you I'm not cool).
To sum up my rambling that didn't say much at all:
Many people were annoyed by our resident manic pixie dream girl. I wasn't one of them, partly because of the shift in how I perceive books. I no longer have to like the characters, I just want a well written, well put together and logical story. Did I like Alaska? No. I didn't. But I knew people similar to her. And I admired them, envied them and hated them in equal measure. In this particular book the use of the trope is fine. Especially since she's not a perfection he pursues, but a moody teen that sometimes annoys the shit out of Pudge, but has great tits, and hormones... well, they do their thing.
Is she realistic? Yes, manic pixie dream girls are among us (or rather that's how some guys idealize some girls, it's all perception, Alaska isn't perfect). Were other characters realistic? Yes, actually. They were flawed, but not without redeeming qualities. And they were very much teenagers and acted like it (which for many is enough of a reason to shoot at them with AK47). I'd say they were two dimensional, not totally flat, but not a full blown people yet. Just enough to carry a one track story.
And that was one of the greatest strengths of this book. It was focused, didn't stray from the main lain. Simple, to the point. And it works. That's why the rating is so high.
The story wasn't a typical, senseless YA romance (I'm looking at you, countless authors). It actually managed to surprise me (*gasp*). And the countdown got me really curious. It's not a bad book at all. Yes, writing got awkward and times. And yes, it's short and therefore there isn't much space to expand characters, but I thought Miles was portrayed in an overall realistic manner. Did it make me love him, admire him? Hell no! But I gladly joined for a ride.
The ending was a bit too philosophical, but within reason. Come one, you sometimes have thoughts like this too :P And it's not like we were bombarded with those through the book.