Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Teen Angel Woooooo...oooo

So is anybody wondering about the book I was reading on the train into New York on Monday? The book I didn't care for very much and couldn't mention at lunch because it was published by a division of my publisher? Yeah, I thought you probably were.

Well, it's called Looking for Alaska by John Green. Green is, from everything I've read, a witty and charming young man. I really, really wanted to like his book.

Looking for Alaska might be described as a teen death book. Set in a private boarding school. Sort of like Dead Poets Society. (I didn't read the book, saw the movie. However, I did take a graduate class with Sam Pickering who is supposed to have inspired the John Keating character. Who I think may die in the book. Hmmm.)

So you may, as I did, get the feeling you've read or seen this story before. You've got your self-destructive smart kids, your outsider poor kids, your rich kids who are disliked. Your beloved teacher. Your BIG important topics and themes. Looking for Alaska has a lot more sex and smoking than some of the other books, but otherwise it feels like a remix.

Now, as I've said before, I understand that young people haven't been reading for decades the way I have. Therefore this book may seem more original to them. I know I have to keep that in mind. Still, doesn't there come a point when we just don't need another book that's the same as so many others of its kind?

"Well, no, Gail," you may say. "Just because you don't like a book doesn't mean nobody else will. In fact, you're not liking it may be a very good recommendation. And you did say this book has a lot of sex and smoking."

Still, I think that upon entering boarding school every new student should have to sign a waiver promising that he or she will never, ever write about their experience. This is one horse that I think has just been ridden right into the ground.

Except for...the book I will write about tomorrow.

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