Friday, August 29, 2014

Let's Get Lost, by Adi Alsaid

Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid was touted by some as "The Next Paper Towns" and others as "The Road Trip Book of 2014." Since Paper Towns is my #1 favorite John Green novel and since I love me a good road trip story (especially during the summer months), I was excited to read it and anxiously awaited the day when it would arrive in my hands. That said, the book had some pretty huge expectations to meet. Upon receiving it, I thought for sure, "THIS will be a book I'm going to want to hug when I finish it!"

Did any of that happen?

Um... Not quite. 

While I didn't dislike the story, I didn't absolutely love it either. My reaction was lukewarm at best. The premise is this: Leila is a teen on a mission to cross seeing the Northern Lights off her bucket list. So she road trips it across the country (in her obnoxiously red car) to do just that. Along the way she meets people and they have adventures and misadventures together. Leila has sort of a Stargirlesque quality about her in that she's kind of quirky-mysterious and has an uncanny knack for influencing (or, in most cases, totally derailing) the lives of everyone she encounters. 

For Example:

Hudson: An auto mechanic with big plans to go to med school. Leila "helps" him by making him miss his big interview with the dean, meaning he loses his one and only chance of getting the scholarship he so desperately needs to attend his college of choice and fulfill his dreams. 

Bree: A teenage runaway whom Leila gets arrested...and later reunites with her estranged older sister (there's LOTS of family drama here, but I'm not giving away any spoilers). 

Elliot: His encounter with Leila begins with Leila almost running him over with her car. She then proceeds to "help" him try to win the girl of his dreams. A girl who, just hours before, rejected him on the premise that she didn't want to ruin their friendship. Awkward!

Sonia: Still grieving over the death of her boyfriend, Sonia feels guilty over the fact she's falling for a new guy. Luckily, Leila is there to swoop in and save (?) the day.

Lastly, Leila tells her story. And, again, no spoilers. But, honestly, by the time I got to this point, I was kind of burnt out on the story. And that made it difficult for me to suspend my belief enough to buy it.

These five chapters read more like separate short stories rather than inter-connected parts of a full-on novel. Not unlike Marcus Sedgwick's Midwinterblood, Let's Get Lost has a choppy and disjointed feel. The reader doesn't get to stay with the characters long enough to become invested in them or their problems. The only character with any staying power was, of course, Leila... And I have to admit I didn't like her very much. I found her to be meddling, nosy, and creating more trouble than she did help (What gives her the right to decide what's in the best interest of someone they just met...and then proceed to screw up their lives? Annoying!). Also, like Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl, there was something not quite real about her (except I liked Stargirl's character). 

The final word: I liked the concept of the book, the idea of it. I was just expecting something different.

Not sure I can recommend this one. --AJB

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