With critics claiming this to be another Paper Towns, I didn’t really expect it to reach that level of brilliance for me, as what usually happens when books are compared to one of my favourites. After reading Let’s Get Lost (and realising my mistake of thinking Adi Alsaid was a woman when he’s not – I have no idea why I thought that, though I suppose it has something to do with the cover–) I found that my initial expectations were correct. Sure, this is an enjoyable, entertaining and pleasant read, but it doesn’t go as deep as the journey Margo and Quentin take. I’m not saying it’s not a good lesson to learn that sometimes one has to get lost to find themselves, and that sometimes what they really need is back where they came from all along. I just feel that there was something missing in Alsaid’s exploration of this concept.
I think what I had trouble with most about this novel, at least at first, was the structure, or really, the content of each section. If you don’t know each section of the novel is split into 5 parts: Hudson, Bree, Elliot, Sonia and Leila. The four characters meet Leila during their parts and she ultimately helps them with whatever problem they’re having. And the final chapter finally gives us the background of Leila and the real reason why she’s so desperate to drive across America to Alaska and see The Northern Lights. There’s part me that really enjoyed the way Alsaid chose to tell the story. It was innovative and creative and I can definitely see it as a great way to tell a story. The trouble for me is that I thought Bree, Elliot and Sonia’s sections just weren’t very strong. I feel that they just don’t really add much to the story except to bulk it up. It was like they were stand alone stories with the only common ground being Leila. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the characters and how each of them had different problems to work through. Their one night exchanges with Leila were fun to read, but they are just not stories that are going to stick with me forever. I often found the situations/plot of these sections quite frustrating. The whole thing about Leila turning up to help them seemed a bit unrealistic and forced, and the obstacles they had to cross were a bit dumb at times. I’m really not sure what the whole point of Leila’s passing friendships with Bree, Elliot and Sonia really was. I understood that Leila was genuinely coming to their rescue, but I just felt there was something off about it. Especially when I had no idea about the time frame until Sonia’s section, and didn’t really learn much about Leila until we finally got to her section. Which was definitely a highlight of the novel.
The part I enjoyed the most was Hudson. It felt more put together than the rest of novel I think, and it linked better with Leila’s story. I can’t say much without giving the ending away, but I guess the whole novel I couldn’t help wondering what was going to happen with Hudson because his section ends rather abruptly. I liked Hudson as a character the best and found his relationship with Leila the most compelling and interesting.
Alsaid’s writing is acceptable, though sometimes I thought it came across as just a bit unbelievable and sentimental, and I personally thought character actions and dialogue could have been better crafted at times. But his descriptions are quite good and he has still has a nice flow to his storytelling. While I’m not sure about the content of the middle section in particular, I applaud his attempt at writing something different and thinking of a good premise that (mostly) works. Though this isn’t a novel joining my favourites, it’s still a worthwhile read and a good one to read in bed while you’re sick or just need a day to wind-down.