Tag Archives: realistic

Book Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green [Tenth Anniversary Edition]

Published February 2015 by Harper Collins.

24599112Goodreads Synopsis: Miles has a quirky interest in famous people’s last words, especially François Rabelais’s final statement, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” Determined not to wait for death to begin a similar quest, Miles convinces his parents to let him leave home. Once settled at Culver Creek Preparatory School, he befriends a couple of equally gifted outcasts: his roommate Chip―commonly known as the Colonel—who has a predilection for memorizing long, alphabetical lists for fun; and the beautiful and unpredictable Alaska, whom Miles comes to adore.

The kids grow closer as they make their way through a school year filled with contraband, tests, pranks, breakups, and revelations about family and life. But as the story hurtles toward its shattering climax, chapter headings like “forty-six days before” and “the last day” portend a tragic event―one that will change Miles forever and lead him to new conclusions about the value of his cherished “Great Perhaps.”

My review is of the tenth anniversary special edition, which contains bonus content and deleted scenes.

My Review: This book came as a surprise in the post, but I was so excited when it arrived. I read Looking For Alaska last year, in the short period after finishing John Green’s latest book, The Fault in Our Stars, and I wasn’t sure about rereading it – but I ended up doing so and I think I loved it even more than I did the first time around.

Going back to revisit Miles and Alaska and the Colonel felt like a nostalgic reunion with old friends – I forgot how much I loved the characters and their chemistry. Though I feel that all of John Green’s characters are somewhat similar, I can’t fault them. They’re always endlessly funny, yet complex, and they have such well developed back-stories. Since my first read, I’d forgotten much of Alaska’s background and how it connects with her future, and it was quite haunting to rediscover it.

As for the plot, I somehow felt even more absorbed, knowing what was coming (though admittedly I forgot at which point the BIG PLOT TWIST THAT BROKE MY HEART happened, and it struck me really hard and I spent the rest of the night crying to my friend). I also picked up on some parallels in the ‘before’ and ‘after’ sections that the book is split into – I didn’t notice how events lined up and how the story begins 135 days before and ends 135 days after, exactly. This is why rereading is the best – There are so many things you pick up that you hadn’t noticed before!

However, I did dislike some bits of the plot – I loved the ending but I don’t feel it did the book justice, that near-end scene just felt a little disjointed and random to me. The ‘before’ part is definitely the best part, plot-wise, as in the ‘after’ I felt everything was just dragged out a little. However, it was definitely the most emotional part. I couldn’t help but tear up at so many parts.

the reason I’m reviewing this book again is because it’s a new edition, with bonus stuff, so I thought I may as well do a new post and not just reblog my old review. At the back of this edition there’s actually more new content than I’d anticipated – I loved reading John Green’s articulately answered Q&A, thought my favourite thing was the deleted scenes. There were original drafts of scenes such as the opening pages of the book, where Miles is saying goodbye to his parents and starting at Culver Creek school. I found it so fascinating to see how John Green’s writing developed over many rewrites.

Overall, I really recommend Looking For Alaska, especially this copy – whether you haven’t read it before and want to start reading Green’s books (Warning, does not come with tissues, you must purchase these yourself.) or whether you’re a long-time fan, as the new things included are really great! Also, hai, gorgeous shiny cover. The story is one of those rare ones that touches you in a way not many can. It rips your heart to pieces then puts it back together, over and over. The characters never truly leave you – the whole book is just unforgettable.

My Rating:

four and a half

I received a copy of Looking For Alaska from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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book review: writing in the sand by helen brandom

Published 1st April 2014 by Usborne.

20957971Goodreads Synopsis: “Amy! Wait till you hear this…”
I hold my breath. 

“What?” I say. 

“Last night someone left a baby on our doorstep.” My heart stops. This is it, I think. Now what do I do?

Sixteen-year-old Amy is used to keeping secrets – about her mum’s illness, her irresponsible sister and her ex-boyfriend. Amy is her mum’s sole carer and every day is filled with tiny battles to achieve the simplest things, from cooking a meal to keeping the house clean, especially when social services come round. No matter how difficult stuff gets, Amy doesn’t want anything to change. But then a shocking discovery turns everything upside-down. 

When a newborn baby is left on her best friend’s doorstep, it becomes the talk of the town, and only Amy holds the key to the baby’s identity. Now she has two choices: tell the truth, or live a lie forever.

My Review: Writing in the Sand is a very poignant, and brutally honest story! It covers themes of love, loss, and family, and I really enjoyed reading it.

The story begins with our protagonist, Amy, who, as she’s sitting her exams, is also experiencing a lot of pressure at home. She has to care for her mother, and she’s torn apart over her ex boyfriend’s migration, and now, a baby has turned up on her best friend’s doorstep and Amy knows who’s left it there, and it’s turning her life upside down.

I really liked the character of Amy, because she felt like such a realistic teenager. I was rooting for her all the way through the story, even though some of the choices she made weren’t the best available! I think she’s going to be well loved by anyone who reads this book!

I was really intrigued by the pretty mysterious plot (Though from a note on the press release I realised everything and AHHH! :s) and all of the débuts I’ve read so far this year have been stunning, so I had really high hopes! The plot deals with a lot of pretty scary themes for a teenagers to be dealing with. I’m really impressed that the début author, Helen Brandom, has written everything so well. I had a little correct idea of the outcome, though wholly, the book is quite unpredictable.

Helen Brandom’s writing is truly great. She’s captured the voice of a teenager so successfully and I really loved the narration!

Overall, I really enjoyed Writing in the Sand. It’s a heart-breaking, but also heart-warming story that deals with complicated relationships, pregnancies, and children who have to care for their less able family members. Riveting and powerful, I think a lot of people are going to find the plot really memorable- as they will also find the protagonist! There was one character I wanted to know so much more about, but, oh well… I would really love to hear much more from Helen in the future. A really great, recommended, contemporary!

My Rating: 

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I received a copy of Writing in the Sand from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.