What are some characteristics of the genre used in Looking for Alaska?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Looking for Alaska is generally defined as a young-adult novel, a book intended for those in their teens and early twenties. Some characteristics of this genre include:

1. First-person narration, which helps the reader connect with the protagonist; everything is from the protagonist's perspective, and so the reader sees both the narrator's subjective opinion of events, and the real truth of events.

2. Common problems of young people, including dating, friendships, and hazing, which all combine to make the life of a young-adult emotionally complex.

3. Straightforward prose, intended to be read easily and quickly instead of pored over for hidden meaning:

He's still very angry, I found myself thinking with a bit of pity. No reason to be angry. Anger just distracts from the all-encompassing sadness, the frank knowledge that you killed her and robber her of a future and a life. Getting pissed wouldn't fix it. Damn it.
(Green, Looking for Alaska, Google Books)

4. Tragedy, which challenges the characters and forces them to take responsibility for their actions and reexamine their preconceived notions.

All these characteristics together are meant to provide more than a simple story, but in a way that is easy to take in; a complex writing style, for example, might leave readers emotionally detached from the story. Like many young-adult novels, Looking for Alaska delves into the complicated inner mind of a young person, showing all the foibles and failures, as well as the various personal opinions and occasional triumphs. Because of certain themes and events, the book might be considered too mature for those under age 13.


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