After finishing John Green's The Fault In Our Stars, I decided to go ahead & read Looking For Alaska, his previous book. Looking For Alaska got a little bit of press recently in Tennessee because it was banned in some local schools. As I was talking to Tiffany about it, she reminded me that she sent it to me last year. I decided to read it & see what all the hype was about. A few thoughts:
- I liked Looking For Alaska, but not as much as The Fault In Our Stars.
- I love coming-of-age, boarding school books, but this one fell a little short for me. Maybe because it's YA?
- If you're also interested in coming-of-age/boarding schools books, I recommend Donna Tartt's The Secret History.
My Final Thoughts
If I remember correctly, this book was banned because of an oral sex scene. After I finished the book, I had to really sit down & try to remember what I had read that was worthy of it being banned. It wasn't until someone reminded me that it was oral sex that I remembered a brief, inconsequential oral sex scene early-ish in the book. It's not sexy & it's definitely not pornographic. If anything, it's the 2012 version of two high school girls teaching each other how to French kiss. John Green has a good take on his book being banned. He says:
It never even occurred to me that it might be a problem while I was writing it. I got nervous when the book came close to publication, though. I have to give full credit to my editor, Julie Strauss-Gabel. She was absolutely steadfast about refusing to censor the novel, even when I wasn't. My friend David Levithan once said of gay writers, "We are political novelists who do not wish to be political." I feel a bit of that when it comes to banning books from classrooms & libraries. I don't want to have to fight that fight, but I won't shirk the responsibility I feel to my books & my readers. Teachers have been trained to teach, & they know how to teach, & we need to fight to let them teach uncensored books - whether it's Catcher in the Rye (or Alaska, for that matter) - in an English class or evolution in a biology class.Well said. I like John Green. I like his writing style & I like the characters he creates. This book didn't do it for me, but I will happily & eagerly read the next book he puts out. For anyone who's read Looking For Alaska, I highly recommend The Fault In Our Stars. I think you'll agree that his writing improved in the six years between the two books.