What can I say… novel construction, interesting characters, a few good lines spread here and there... but overall for me, it’s missing something. And I don’t mean Miles’ final conclusions about Alaska.
I do like how the book has that Henry James kind of construction—essentially a momentary glimpse into the defining moments of a young person’s life—all that really matters, is the present, not the past or the future. We’re very much in the moment—like the way the majority of teens think…realizations and consequences of actions come later.
The application of physics to life and death—an idea I always rather liked—is also done well here. Energy’s conserved; it can’t be created or destroyed: “Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations.” It’s certainly a comforting idea.
I also loved those great little comedic moments with the group, as well as those little moments of realism. For instance when Miles states, “My mouth tasted like a skunk had crawled into my throat and died. I made an effort not to exhale near Lara as she groggily extricated herself from the sleeping bag.” That’s so true! I always used to wonder about that. So many novels and films show those romantic scenes where the two new lovers wake up next to each other…the moment’s so beautiful… the staring into each other’s eyes, the good mornings, the inevitable kiss… You never see them say after that kiss, “Ew! Morning breath!” ;)
But, predictability kills this book. As soon as we get the description that Alaska’s moody, I absolutely knew how this would end. Because of that and reading those final few pages, I couldn’t help but feel that the ending was rather anticlimactic. This feeling was enhanced because at the beginning of the “After” section, I wrote in the margin, “Do they really need to know why?” This is one of those books that drag, because the answer—the source of the problem is so tangible, but the characters are too blind or too stubborn to see it.
What really killed the end was this line, “I know she forgives me, just as I forgive her.” It’s a sentence that jars the senses and makes you ask, “Why should this matter?” It doesn’t necessarily flow with the book’s final images and message.
While I think this book could have been better, some sections are rather well done. Because of that, I’ll probably pursue other books by this author.