Young Adult Literature

Since its recent rise in popularity, Young Adult literature has received more and more attention. A lot of this attention has been centered on books like J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” and Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight.”  This spike in readership has also attracted the attention of literary critics, and as a result a vast sea of academic consideration has begun to be published in an attempt to understand and define the genre. However, despite this academic pursuit, little has been agreed upon besides the fact that Young Adult literature is not Children’s Literature nor is it what could commonly be called Adult Literature, but rather it is a sort of hybrid that sits on the border between childhood and adulthood. Often, but not always, critics will define the genre using a list of stock characteristics including some of the following characteristics.

  • The protagonist is a teenager.
Looking for Alaska is told from the perspective of “Pudge”—Miles Halter—who is a junior in high school and a first year student at Culver Creek boarding school. Pudge made the decision to attend the Creek in hopes of finding the “Great Perhaps.”

  • The genres are written for young adults.
John Green is a well known YA writer. Looking for Alaska was his first book, and was marked towards Young Adults.

  • Parents/Adults are often absent or have conflicts with the young adults in the stories.
Adults are made apparent several times in Looking for Alaska, but all of the main plot points are focused on the young adults in the book.

  • Deals with complex social issues or coming of age.
Looking for Alaska addresses issues of social class, the meaning of life, and surviving the death of a friend.  

  • Many of the books are under 300 pages and tend to be fast paced.
Looking for Alaska takes place during the course of one year at Culver Creek. It is divided into two sections—Before and After—and it’s chapters are broken up by how many days before or after Alaska’s death it is. This way of breaking up the book, not only helps to out line the plot for the readers, but also allows us to ability to move sequentially and cohesively through the entire year in only 221 pages. This makes for a read that is fast paced in parts—drawing the reader in—and slow paced in other parts—allowing the reader time to meditate upon the events that are unfolding. It is not a difficult read in regards to word usage, but is quite dense in content and meaning—requiring time to unpack.

Similar book as Looking for Alaska:

Catcher in the Rye
The Outsiders
The Chocolate War


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