LET'S GET LOST is the debut contemporary coming-of-age novel by Adi Alsaid, and he really gets it right the first time. This is a strong story that I highly recommend to anyone wanting a good contemporary story about love, friendship, family, and adventure. LET'S GET LOST is told in 5 parts, each one from a different character's point of view. I absolutely loved having multiple points of view in a single story - this is something that doesn't happen enough in YA fiction.
We are immediately thrown into the story from Hudson's point of view. I really respect a story that gets started so fast, and then is able to keep up the pace. The writing is simply spectacular, the pacing is perfect, and the characters are just real enough to be someone you might know in life.
As for the issue of love at first sight, I think it is actually quite realistically handled. When Hudson first meets Leila he thinks, "I'll be thinking about that face for weeks." By the end of the first chapter he's upgraded her status to: "I'll be thinking about her for months." This is real life. This is what really happens when you meet someone, and their smile makes your heart skip a beat. When your arm brushes theirs and you can feel it all the way down to your toes. Hudson is a seriously multi-dimensional character, and I honestly fell in love with him right away. The way he and Leila interact is really entertaining, too. The banter between them is just the right amount of funny and awkward, and the tension is cut in all the right ways.
Contemporary teen novels are often plagued by a sense of pretentious superiority in that their protagonists are something like literary hipsters, quoting American classics and obscure European novelists alike. Want to talk about Vonnegut? Don't bring him up in a conversation you have with your friends in the back of a van while eating junk food, or in a diner booth slurping down milkshakes. In LET'S GET LOST the only Vonnegut we see is in quotes on a bathroom wall. This is realistic. This is what teens do. I'm not saying teens can't have a deep conversation about literature, but that it is simply not appropriate content for this kind of book. Alsaid leaves the pretentious teens out of the book, and I am so grateful for that.
Let's talk about Leila. You may think she's just another manic-pixie-dream-girl, but you'd be wrong. Leila is just a girl on a quest to figure out some intense problems in the only way she knows how. Throughout most of the book Leila seems distant and fake - more like the idea of a road-tripping girl than an actual girl on a road trip. But there's a reason for that, and it's a good one. Leila is discovering herself just as much as we are discovering her, and the moments when she does are really subtle. You've got to look for them, to pay attention to the clues, like that she hates hospitals and cries while driving. When you're reading from Hudson, or Bree, or Sonia's point of view it isn't always obvious when the real Leila sneaks through the facade.
The Verdict? Read it. LET'S GET LOST is just as good as John Green's road trip novel, PAPER TOWNS. In fact, I liked it better. It's more realistic, the characters have more depth, and while it isn't as funny, it's not meant to be comedic. Leila's road trip is a serious personal journey of discovery, and I loved being along for the ride.
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