Writers are always hearing from agents and editors that "I just didn't connect with your work." And now I know what they mean. John's writing is great, the voice authentic, his theme intriguing. But, I just didn't connect. (Actually, John may be one of the few writers in the world never to have been told that ... apparently he sold Alaska to the first editor he submitted to, which is another reason I know I really should love this book.)
I think there were three main reasons I didn't connect.
- I hate pranks. Pranks play a large part in the book. And granted, the final prank is a hoot and is pulled off beautifully. But I cringe at TV shows and movies with pranks, and I felt that same discomfort here.
- I generally shy away from dark themes. I've never been a big Coen brothers fan. Disliked Fargo. Hated No Country. So you see where I'm coming from. Alaska has lots of humor and light moments, but let's face it, suicide (or, I should say, potential suicide) is dark, no matter how you frame it. This is not to say I never enjoy reading serious or dark books, but that generally is not my preference, so I'm sure that had something to do with my overall reaction to the book.
- The ending made me very, very unhappy. Not because it wasn't satisfying. Not because it didn't work. Not because it seemed contrived or inappropriate or unrealistic or any of those things. No, the reason I hated the ending is because Green ends with his main character writing a school essay exploring the meaning of life and love and friendship ... and that's how I was going to end my current work in progress! Now I'll just seem derivative. So I have to think about whether to stick to my plan or change it. Waaaah! (Ah, well, great minds... LOL.)