Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

SPOILERS AHEAD. You have been warned.

I had high hopes for Gone Girl. Each person I spoke to who had already read the book had nothing but praise for it. But I was less than a quarter through reading Gone Girl when I felt as though finishing this book would feel more like a chore than enjoyment; the kind of book I’d put down and disregard rather than finishing. I almost looked up the ending because I didn’t feel like wading through the rest of the book to discover the final outcome. Maybe I should have just watched the film?

Meet Nick and Amy Dunne. New York City writers who found themselves victims of the rapid growth of the Internet. The printed word was dying, and their careers along with it. Both unemployed, Nick uprooted the couple and moved to Missouri to live closer to his dying mother. Nick settled back into his hometown while his Manhattanite wife struggled to adjust to small-town life. Their marriage began to falter and on their 5th wedding anniversary, Amy disappeared. What happened to Amy Dunne?

Gillian Flynn took far too long to develop the characters and the plot. The book was half over by the time things actually started to get interesting. The characters were pretentious and not relatable. I really did not care what was going to happen to Amy and Nick. I only preserved because everyone I spoke to assured me “it gets better”. I continued but failed to feel anything towards these characters. I began to truly despise the character of Amy, somehow I could not even muster the slightest bit of sympathy for her. Poor little rich girl, the only child of successful author parents, complete with a large trust fund and a gorgeous Manhattan home. Poor little rich New Yorker, uprooted to Missouri to live closer to her husband’s dying mother. Unemployed but doing nothing to improve her own quality of life. Her personality was a facade; a mask of a Cool Girl. Amy had completely altered her personality to become someone else so that her witty husband with the gorgeous smile would love her. But once she let her true colours show, she resented and hated Nick for not loving the real Amy; a person he was only just being introduced to after he had fallen in love with Cool Girl Amy. She lived, unhappily married to Nick, torturing herself and Nick instead of seeking true happiness. Before I get too carried away and you start jumping to conclusions that I think Nick was a golden boy and the victim in all this; Nick is no better than Amy. He wore his own mask. He kept his feelings bottled up and words left unsaid. But at least his character – despite being a liar and a cheat – was a little bit more genuine, more relatable, more average.

Life is nothing but a game for Amy. She described Nick as the big bad wolf, some stereotypical “bad guy” and how she couldn’t let him win. She turned his fidelity into some kind of twisted game. She realised that framing him for her own meticulously planned murder is extreme; that just walking away and leaving would be a sign of weakness. I can’t even begin to understand how a person could become so motivated to exact such mad revenge. Neither party is innocent in the breakdown of their marriage. Amy talked about Nick’s selfishness, but in truth, they were both awfully selfish characters. The book has no shortage of self-centred acts. The fact that Amy spent months planning to frame Nick for her murder but then had a sudden change of heart and adapted her sinister, self-preservationist plan to frame Desi Collings, the creepy prep school boyfriend who also just happened to be fabulously rich, so she could run home and into Nick’s arms is just incomprehensible, but also a perfect example of how selfish Amy truly is. Poor, naive Desi Collings. Speaking of Desi, I immediately imagined him as the character of Dandy Mott (played by Finn Wittrock) from American Horror Story Freak Show and I could not remove the image from my mind.

I must admit, the book did become quite addictive in the latter half. The story twisted and turned enough to keep the reader hooked whilst feeling endlessly frustrated at the turn of events. I found myself actually wanting to read it, but not because I was enjoying it or because it was particularly well written, but the twists and turns were coming thick and fast so I just needed to know what was going to happen next, no matter how irritating it may be. As contradictory as that sounds, I still felt zero connection to the characters; I didn’t particularly care about them. I just needed to know – would Amy’s psychotic plan actually work? Would Amy return? Would Nick be sent to prison, and ultimately to his death? How on earth would Flynn end this?

The ending of Gone Girl literally had me flipping through the remaining pages to ensure I hadn’t missed some secret ending, some kind of hidden chapter. It was infuriating enough that Amy got away with the murder of an innocent man, but she also resumed her life with Nick like nothing happened. No consequence, no justice. But wait, that’s not all! Amy is pregnant with Nick’s child! It’s not enough for Amy to manipulate Nick into playing the role of the perfect husband in her staged and scripted version of life, but she is bringing a child into the world. Nick and Amy deserve each other, but no child deserves parents like these two. Allowing Amy to become a mother is probably the most infuriating thing of all.

Gone Girl is overhyped. Not worth a second read and not something I would recommend.

Review: The Order: 1886

Note: This review was written not long after the release of The Order: 1886 in early 2015. Please keep this in mind as you read through the review. Thank you!

Here’s the recipe – Take a meticulously detailed alternate version of the city of London, including locations like Westminster and Big Ben, Whitechapel and the London Underground. Add the Knights of the Round Table aka The Order, who almost gain immortality with a substance known as Blackwater. Throw in some beastly creatures known as Half Breeds who are at war with the Knights of The Order. Add some firepower in the form of revolutionary steampunk style weapons, a pinch of other details for the history nerds – characters such as Nikola Tesla, mention of Jack the Ripper, zeppelins, fantastic Victorian costume design and moustaches. So many moustaches. Season with some of the best graphics next-gen has to offer. Play for around 8 hours and there you have it, The Order: 1886. Delicious! But not necessarily to everybody’s tastes. Let’s talk about why this game has some people screwing up their nose in distaste.

Before we continue, I’d like to take a moment to think of the most popular titles of late. I’ll give you a second to think about it. All done? I’m willing to bet that the majority of games that came to mind were shooters, of the first person variety. Every new release in the FPS genre promises to be the next new thing, and some almost live up to that promise but at the end of the day, they’re all still cut from the same cloth. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, why reinvent the wheel or fix something if it isn’t broken? But The Order: 1886 presents us with something new.

The main area in which this game excels is visually. The Order: 1886 really demonstrates the performance of the PlayStation 4, and of course that was intentional. There is no doubt that Sony wants to show the world that their next generation contender is a graphical powerhouse. The game is about as realistic as it gets, you really couldn’t ask for much more in terms of visual presentation. The Order: 1886 leaves no detail unconsidered. Victorian London jumps out of the pages of history books and comes alive on your screen. This game would be flawless if graphics was all we judged a game on.

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What else does The Order: 1886 have going for it, you ask? The ability to tell a damn good story. The art of telling an interesting story has been shoved aside in favour of the never-ending cycle of almost identical games with a different title every year. There is where The Order: 1886 is making a difference. The focus is being brought back to telling a story. The cinematic feel of the game makes it feel like a hybrid of movie and game, an interactive film. And it looks absolutely stunning. The gameplay may be simple, but the controls don’t need to be complex to work well. I felt far too absorbed into the story to care that I wasn’t executing complicated commands on my DualShock 4. It was almost like respite for my controller to take a break from massive amounts of button mashing.

One of the biggest complaints about this title has been about the lack of control and the quick time events. The key to enjoying The Order: 1886 is as simple as approaching the game with an open mind. Don’t insert the disc into your console, ready to compare it to everything else you have played in the past few months. The Order: 1886 is a new breed of game. The majority of the gameplay is walking, exploring, finding items, solving the occasional puzzle, cover-based shooting and battling larger foes with the use of QTE. At no time did I feel like I wasn’t in control of the game. There is no true ‘boss battle’ but there is no rule stating that a boss battle is a requirement. Some of the shooting sections were challenging enough, especially if you bump up the difficulty. But all in all, The Order: 1886 is an easy game. But this doesn’t stop it from being fun. If you can settle into a couple of hours of gameplay, this game is immersive, endlessly interesting and loads of fun.

I will continue to praise The Order: 1886, but I can’t deny the facts – yes, this game is very short. It can easily be completed – Platinum trophy and all – in the amount of time the average adult spends at work in one day. Replay value? Slim to none. Multiplayer? Zip. Online co-op? Nada. But The Order: 1886 doesn’t need any of these features to be successful. They have become so common in recent games that players have come to expect them. This game works better without them. If you take this game for what it is, and don’t compare it to anything else, it’s a wonderful piece of artistry. If you haven’t picked up a copy of The Order: 1886 due to the heavy amount of criticism the game has received, cast that aside and decide for yourself. If you want to kick back with a beautiful game that you can polish off over one weekend, The Order: 1886 is for you.

What Makes Rhythm Games So Successful?

If you ask someone what their favourite rhythm game is, most people have an enthusiastic response. The most common responses are Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero or Rock Band and fans of Japanese pop culture are excited to start talking about the Hatsune Miku: Project Diva games. But everyone who has ever enjoyed a rhythm game, whether casual or competitive, has fond memories of their first game. Many people have stuck with their favourite franchise for years and will continue to do so for many more to come. From tapping away with a stylus on any of the Nintendo DS family, to giving your thumbs a serious workout on a smartphone or jamming on a virtual guitar controller, everyone has played some form of rhythm game.

Rhythm games have been around for a surprisingly long time and it’s safe to say they won’t be going anywhere any time soon. This sub genre of games challenges the player’s sense of rhythm. Players must hit combinations of buttons with precision to audio and visual cues. Your accuracy is rewarded with points. The concept is fairly simple and this idea is the backbone of all rhythm games. Many people will tell you that rhythm games as we know them were born with the Japanese PlayStation One title PaRappa the Rapper in 1997. In this title, the player takes control of PaRappa, a rapping dog. If you successfully hit the right button combinations with the correct timing, PaRappa will rap. You are ranked as either Awful, Bad, Good or Cool by the “U rappin’” meter. PaRappa the Rapper is a Japanese title but all of the songs and dialog are in English and it’s not long before you find yourself singing along with the catchy, original tunes. If you prefer the style of a fighting game, get ready for the 1999 hit Bust-a-Groove. This game takes the basics of a fighting game but throws dancing into the mix, resulting in bizarre button pressing rhythmic madness. Two characters battle it out in an epic battle of breakdancing, special moves and attacks. Picture a b-boy dance battle but the dancers have the ability to unleash attack moves to overcome the challenger and ultimately become the victor.

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In 1999, the arcade dance game culture was changed forever when Dance Dance Revolution hit the scene. DDR was the game that pioneered the active dancing games, over a decade before games like Just Dance hit the shelves. Standing on a virtual dance stage, players step, jump and turn while being directed by floating on-screen icons, shaking their groove-thang to the latest J-Pop hits. Fast forward to 2005. The curtain is drawn, audiences hold their breath with anticipation as the spotlight hits the new star on the scene: Guitar Hero. Guitar Hero had players following along with notes scrolling down the screen with a plastic guitar-like controller, smaller than the real deal but close enough, pressing coloured buttons on the neck of the guitar to match those on screen. Gamers and music lovers alike united in their joy of this new game, racking up high scores, showing off to mates and generally just feeling like a rock star. Then along came Rock Band, adding new instruments into the mix. Now not only could you jam on a virtual guitar, now you could also belt out the tunes until your throat was raw and drum out the killer beats on a device similar to a tiny electronic drum kit. The addition of downloadable tracks was also beneficial as it meant consumers could continue to add to their music library and expand the replay value of the games.

In more recent years, rhythm games have made a move to mobile devices. Touchscreen controls on smartphones, tablets and handheld consoles eliminate the need for awkward buttons or external controllers. The introduction of rhythm games on portable devices meant players could unleash their inner rockstar anywhere – on the bus, in waiting rooms, huddled up in bed – the options were endless. Combine your mobile device with a good pair of headphones – instant Rock God. In 2008, the iPhone Guitar Hero clone, Tap Tap Revenge appeared on the App Store, then spawned various spin off versions of the game – Linkin Park Revenge and Katy Perry Revenge come to mind. The game was almost identical to Guitar Hero but it took advantage of touch screen technology rather than relying on an external controller. The Tap Tap franchise ultimately generated 15 million downloads and received a Guinness World Record as the “most popular iPhone game series”. In more recent years we have seen Japanese vocaloid Hatsune Miku dance across our PlayStations in the series of Project Diva games. Square Enix developed Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, a rhythm game featuring all of your favourite Final Fantasy characters and game music. Theatrhythm is available for free on iOS and includes a couple of free tracks, then in-app purchases allow you to choose other songs from your favourite Final Fantasy games.

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One of the keys of success for rhythm games is that people of all ages and abilities can play. Your grandmother may not be interested in playing Battlefield 4 or Assassin’s Creed IV on a next-gen console and I doubt she would challenge you to a Pokemon battle, but hand her an iPad or tablet with a rhythm game that has music to her liking and she will probably have a bit of fun with it. Games that make you get up off the couch and shake your booty dramatically increase the levels of energy used compared to traditional video games and dancing burns more calories than running on a treadmill. Gaming can fight in the war against obesity! Guitar Hero has been utilised in the recovery and rehabilitation of stroke patients due to the multiple limb coordination the game requires. Various universities have conducted studies to determine how games like Guitar Hero can help with autism and mental health and well-being. Researchers have also used Guitar Hero to aid amputees with prosthetic limbs. Rhythm games are great for anyone to work on improving reaction times and coordination. There is something out there for everyone, literally.

At the end of the day, rhythm games are so successful because everyone loves music. Music has become a huge part of our daily lives, whether we realise it or not. Sometimes, you just want to get your groove on and rock out to your favourite tunes. And what’s more fun than listening to music? Playing it, of course! But since we aren’t all born with exceptional musical skill and talent, rhythm games can be quite a challenge but also a lot of fun. If you’re playing a rhythm game right, you can even feel as though you’re creating the music. Players may have never picked up an actual guitar in their entire lives, but they can shred like no other on Guitar Hero or Rock Band.

Another aspect of rhythm games that sets them apart from other genres of games is that they are both casual and extremely competitive at the same time. You can play a quick game on your phone or handheld on the train or challenge other gamers to a DDR showdown at an arcade or gather a group of friends in your living room and duel each other with plastic guitars, each option being as fun and rewarding as the next. These games require as much skill, effort and time as you are willing to invest in them. Like any other game, the more time you invest in them, the better you become.

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 So what does the future hold for rhythm games? In 2012, Rocksmith put a spin on the traditional rhythm game by allowing players to take a more serious approach to the guitar-based games. Being able to play Guitar Hero on Expert Mode doesn’t make you a good musician. Rocksmith analyses the player’s ability and takes an absolute beginner through the basics, from how to hold the pick to how to hold the guitar correctly. Unlike guitar simulator style games, Rocksmith really teaches you how to play guitar, whether you’ve never held a guitar in your life or you just want to improve on some existing guitar playing skills.

There has been a definite switch in the way in which consumers purchase and play rhythm games in recent years. Games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band no longer fly off the shelves like they used to. Instead we’re seeing a lot more rhythm games topping the charts of the App Store and Google Play. Mobile play appears to be the way of the future for rhythm games. Seeing as most of these games are being purchased online, it’s no surprise that downloadable content goes hand in hand with rhythm games. In-app purchases in particular will continue to be the driving force behind the success of these mobile games. Particularly when games are offered for free like Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, where the game itself is free to play but if you want to play more songs, you must purchase them. This is a smart move, as it lets the player test out the game with no financial commitment.

The fat lady hasn’t sung for the rhythm game genre just yet. Shove aside your shooters and RPGs and embrace the beat.

 

Original article can be found on gamegrin.com, 25th March 2014

Breaking in Dr Martens – The Myths

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This post doesn’t exactly fit in with the regular theme of this blog, but this is something I really want to write about and set a few things straight. Having recently been struggling with a very stubborn pair of Dr Martens boots, I have spent some time reading through tips and techniques for breaking in Dr Martens online. Trusty Google provided me with lots of sources of information and lots of crazy suggestions. I tried various things but I ended up taking them to a professional and I quizzed him all about the dos and don’ts of breaking in your boots. As it would turn out, many of the things people suggest online are actually bad for your new Docs!

1. Water is a no-no!
A common tip I see instructs Dr Martens wearers to wear their new boots/shoes in the shower to get the leather wet then wear them all day until they are dry. Supposedly this will soften the leather and help them conform to your foot. Please DO NOT do this to your Docs! This tip only works with leather army boots that are constructed entirely of leather. Dr Martens are not 100% leather, other materials are used to built these fashion staples. The insole beneath the removable inner sole is a mix of products, including cardboard. If you get your Dr Martens soaking wet, that insole is going to disintegrate and you’re going to have very uncomfortable boots. You can also end up breaking down the glue and the stitching may rot. Your Docs can handle being wet on the outside but the inside should stay dry.

2. Heat doesn’t help.
Another tip I’ve seen is heating up the leather to help it stretch – whether it be using a hairdryer to heat up trouble spots or leaving your shoes outside in the sun all day. Guess what? Heat shrinks leather! Heat also draws all of the moisture out of the leather which can result in cracking if you don’t condition the leather well. So don’t leave your boots in the sun, in the car or in front of the fire. If you do get them wet from the rain, leave them in a warm room to dry but not right in front of a heat source. Extreme heat and extreme cold is going to compromise the construction of the shoe. The last thing you want to do is spend lots of hard earned money on an awesome pair of boots then ruin them in the process of trying to break them in.

3. Hammertime.
I have seen many people suggest that you beat your Dr Martens with a hammer or mallet. This tip is quite unnecessary. Does it really sound like a good idea to take a hammer to your new shoes? I think this one is just common sense. Don’t partake in Dr Marten abuse. Put the hammer down.

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The things you should do.

Just wear them. Start off wearing them for short periods while you’re at home. As soon as they begin to hurt, give your feet a break. You will be able to build yourself up to wearing them for longer. Your feet will get used to them. If you feel a blister coming on, give your feet a break straight away. Like learning to play guitar, you don’t play until your fingers bleed because then you can’t play. You want to build up little callouses on the areas of your feet that need them. When wearing your new Dr Martens out and about for the first couple of times, take a second pair of shoes with you just in case your feet get sore. You can wear a couple of pairs of socks but one pair will also be fine – don’t cause yourself any unnecessary discomfort by layering up multiple pairs of socks. Your boots will conform to the shape of your foot over time. Be patient. You can stuff them with newspaper overnight or for a longer period to prevent the leather from shrinking back when you aren’t wearing them. This worked like a charm with one of my pairs of Dr Martens 1460 boots, but the stubborn pair I mentioned at the beginning of this pair wouldn’t stretch at all with just newspaper, no matter how tight I stuffed them.

If you are really struggling, take your Dr Martens to a professional. Your boots were an expensive investment, a professional shoe repairer will only charge you a small fee to stretch your boots for you and they have the knowledge and proper equipment to stretch your Docs without damaging them. They can also stretch your Dr Martens in places that you can’t. Almost everyone will have some discomfort where the tongue is sewn into the boot, that will get better with normal wear. But if your pinky toe is being squashed because the toe of the shoe is a bit narrow, a professional can stretch the toe area to be a little wider. They can’t make them any longer though, so make sure you buy the correct size in the first place. A couple of days with a professional can make a world of difference. My stubborn pair fit much better now after two days of being stretched by a professional and it only cost $10.

Basically, wearing good quality socks, wearing your Dr Martens as frequently as you can and covering up any painful spots with bandaids is the best advice. Professional stretching is also the best option if you can’t break them in on your own. Don’t say I didn’t warn you if you decide to shower with your Dr Martens.

Review: The Elder Scrolls Online Beta

I am a big Skyrim fan. Out of all the games I have ever played, I have probably spent the most total gameplay hours playing Skyrim. It is the kind of game that has immense replay value, I have started new characters multiple times and I’m sure I will create another one in the future. So it’s safe to say I was very excited to receive an invite to the beta of The Elder Scrolls Online. I spent a few hours over the weekend playing through the beta and here is a summary of the game and some of my thoughts.

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The Elder Scrolls Online takes place roughly 1,000 years before the events of Skyrim. Tamriel is in a period of instability and Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of corruption and domination, has taken the opportunity to try and drag all of Tamriel into his realm of Coldharbour with the use of devices called Dark Anchors. You begin the game in one of the realms of Oblivion, locked in a cell. You have been captured and Molag Bal has stripped you of your soul as a sacrifice. Your task (along with every other player) is to escape from Oblivion and reach Tamriel, where the game truly begins. And from here you, the Soulless One, can choose to take on the main quest line or meet up with a bunch of friends and take on quests together. Every decision you make affects the fate of Tamriel.

There are three major factions in The Elder Scrolls Online. Those factions, made up of the different races found throughout Tamriel, are the Aldmeri Dominion, the Daggerfall Covenant, and the Ebonheart Pact. The race you choose effects which faction you will be a part of. Altmer (High Elves), Bolmer (Wood Elves) and Khajiit are make up the Aldmeri Dominion, Orsimer (Orcs), Bretons and Redguard are the Daggerfall Covenant and the Ebonheart Pact consists of Dunmer (Dark Elves), Argonians and Nords. Other factions, some of which will only be available after launch, include the Fighters Guild, Mages Guild, Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood. I spent my time playing as a Wood Elf. Thankfully, your choice of race and (lack of choice of) faction doesn’t affect your choice of class. Templar, Sorcerer, Nightblade or DragonKnight are the choices at hand. My Wood Elf was a Nightblade because I enjoy playing stealth with a bow. Feedback from the in game chat described the Templar as a very powerful class. Templar is without a doubt the most diverse class, with the ability to tank, partake in crowd control or act as a healer. If you enjoy the role of a mage in other MMOs, then Sorcerer is the choice for you. Dragon Knight can dish out some serious damage, so that class would be your first choice if you enjoy being in the middle of the action. Each have benefits for different purposes and different players.

TESO feels very familiar to anyone who played Skyrim or Oblivion. You still have your stamina, health and magicka bars along the lower section of the screen and the compass along the upper section. The screen isn’t cluttered with a bunch of another windows or boxes like in other MMOs. Bethesda did this on purpose, to simplify the experience and replicate the look of the previous games. Another thing that makes TESO feel more like an RPG than an MMO is that the player feels like the chosen one, not just another citizen with nothing special going for them. The only downfall is that every player is the protagonist, the Soulless One destined to stop Molag Bal, so when you think about that the entire story has a big hole in it. Molag Bal is screwed! But if you overlook that, you can carry one happily and keep on questing. None of the early quests feel like simple, mindless quests, straight away what you are doing has some form of importance. You’re stopping a bunch of crazy guys from summoning a typhoon and investigating some skooma dealers. Unfortunately the third quest I attempted had a bug that stopped me from deactivating some traps so I was never able to complete it.

My time with The Elder Scrolls Online was fairly limited, due to only having access to the Beta over one short weekend. I certainly had a lot of fun, but I didn’t get to explore as deeply into the game as I would have liked so it’s difficult to pass judgement on more in depth aspects of the game, like skills and levelling. But for the most part, The Elder Scrolls Online just made me miss Skyrim. I think at this point in time, I would rather replay Skyrim again than play $15 a month to play The Elder Scrolls Online. There is a possibility that I may warm up to The Elder Scrolls Online, but I don’t think I’ll be pre-ordering it. I would really like to give it a try on the PS4 and I’d love to play it with friends, but only time will tell.

Bethesda Softworks and Zenimax Online Studios bring us the next chapter in the Elder Scrolls saga in April on the PC and Mac and later on in June on PS4 and Xbox One. Will you be picking up a copy?

Elder Scrolls Online Beta Gameplay

I was lucky enough to snag an Elder Scrolls Online beta invite this weekend, like many others. I captured some gameplay footage to share with you all.

Let me just say, I am not a PC gamer. For one, I write this on a MacBook Pro with Retina display. A powerful beast indeed, but not exactly meant for gaming. Everyone knows that Macs and gaming don’t go hand in hand. Secondly, I simply don’t like gaming on a PC. I’m a console girl and that probably won’t be changing any time soon. That being said, despite the controls that I’m not particularly familiar or comfortable with, I loved playing ESO and I felt quite at home with the game. It felt a lot like Skyrim and nothing like other MMOs like World of Warcraft and so forth.

I will write a more in depth review of Elder Scrolls Online once I have played the beta a little more, but for now here’s a few minutes of gameplay footage. Apologies for the lack of audio, I don’t have any fancy capture software so I am only able to capture video. I hope you enjoy.

 

Eclectic Reader Challenge – Award Winning

looking-for-alaska-coverThere are so many award winning titles I could have chosen for this category. I began searching for books that had won multiple awards, for the sake of the category. The more I looked, the more I struggled to find something to settle on. In the end, the book I chose was a single award winner, the winner of the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association. Looking for Alaska by John Green. This young adult novel may have only won a single literary award, but it has won a magnitude of awards in the hearts and minds of the people who have read it. This is the first John Green book I have ever read. This particular title has been on my mental “to read” list for a really long time, a couple of years at least. So many people have asked me if I have read it then expressed how much I needed to read it when I replied that I hadn’t read it. But now I have. So this single award winner was my Eclectic Reader Challenge Book of the month for January.

This book is the kind of book that sticks in your mind. I am a somewhat slow reader, I generally can’t polish a novel off in one sitting. But Looking for Alaska pulled me deep into its’ tale of teenage suffering, so deep that I managed to read over half of the novel in one hit, without surfacing for air. At first I thought this was a simple tale of teenage life and the friendships that are formed, the trials and tribulations of high school life. But there’s one heck of an unexpected plot twist that you only see coming when it’s far too late and you’re completely unprepared for it. The characters are authentic, Miles ‘Pudge’ Halter – the narrator of the story – is relatable and likeable, Alaska is the kind of girl that you want to dislike at first but you just can’t, you can’t hate Alaska Young.

I feel as though this is a very important book. Every teenager should read this book. Scratch that, everybody should read this book, because we were all teenagers once. This book has some important lessons about friendship and life and death. If you’re looking for an emotional tale that involves heavy doses of teenage angst, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of Looking for Alaska. John Green has a fantastic writing style and I am really looking forward to reading more of his works in the future.