Paradise Squandered

Rated 4.43/5 based on 8 reviews
Paradise Squandered is the story of Andrew Banks, a recent graduate of Puget Sound Prep and quite possibly the most directionless member of his graduating class. Andrew returns home from a graduation trip to Hawaii and resigns himself to going through the motions of his own life, until he overhears the disturbing truth of his father's death and instantly decides to leave home forever. More

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About Alex Stefansson

Alex Stefansson was born in 1984 in Seattle, Washington. He grew up in the suburbs and later attended Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, where he accumulated a large amount of debt and also met his wife. He enjoys witnessing wardrobe malfunctions, eating hot dogs, and spending quality time with his wife, two young sons, and neurotic cat.

Reviews

Review by: gaele hi on June 11, 2013 :
Engrossing and engaging, told in first person, this coming of age story brings a sense of the known and unknown to the reader as it progresses. Andrew is not particularly lovable from this perspective, nor sympathetic, in fact I was almost hoping for something to shake him; for a snap judgment to be wrong, for some grey to invade his very black and white world.

Adding to the difficulty is the often lamented immaturity that is in juxtaposition from his sarcastic and often spot on depictions of people and events that surround him. While coming of age stories are usually angst filled and stereotypical: Stefansson’s skill with the written word provides a sense of a real teenager as they navigate the world between childhood and adulthood. I won’t make comparisons to other writers, as many have: for I think that this author managed to set his own path, with a book that is eminently readable and worth every second.

What you won’t get is a happy ending with roses and bunnies: but you will see his growth and be left with a story that gives you some insight, and plenty of food for thought.

I received an eBook from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Michelle Hofacker on June 02, 2013 :
When I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review I was expecting to be reading a book that would similar to those I have read before. We all know the ones about a teenager who deals with adversity and comes out smelling like a rose. That is not what I got.
This book at first confused me, I felt like I had walked into the middle of a conversation. I actually stopped and restarted. Then with a slap on my forehead, I realized why. The author's unique perspective into the main characters life allows you to feel like you are 'in' the main characters head, thus my confusion. Imagine spending longer than 5 minutes in the head of an intoxicated teenage boy and you will understand.
This voice gives the book a great quality of depth and feeling. It allows you to truly understand the reality of the growth of this character. It is well written and worth taking the time to read.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Justine Winans on May 24, 2013 :
Paradise Squandered is an excellent coming of age novel that can appeal to those of all ages and tastes.

Beautifully written and thoroughly real, the work will leave readers thinking long after they read that final page.

Andrew is an excellent narrator. The kind of character that you feel you shouldn't like, but end up liking regardless. He has that connectable, witty sarcasm in his voice, displaying an honesty that hasn't been seen this successful since the narration of Holden Caulfield. The characterization that Stefansson crafts is remarkable.

Paradise Squandered holds many great themes and lessons. I found the writing to be breathtaking, and the quoting opportunities are just about endless. Anyone who has dreams but trouble figuring out what they are going to do next can easily connect to the story. The authentic voices and feelings of the darker sides of teenagers is captured within these pages.

This novel will have you entertained and emotional throughout the entire ride, all the way to the ending - which I thought was the perfect closing spot.

A shorter read, Paradise Squandered holds more content and relevance than the majority of other novels in its genre, and is a breathtaking find.

Bold, brilliant, clever and refreshingly honest, Paradise Squandered is not a novel to miss. Stefansson is able to write to change the reader's mood and thought, and really get them to feel - and I think that is something really amazing. Would highly recommend.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Yve on May 15, 2013 :
Let me start with the disclaimer that I don't read these types of novels very often, so my review will be colored by my reading tastes, but I received this book from the author for free for an honest review.

In the beginning, I wasn't feeling any empathy for the MC. He was judgmental and difficult. I nearly gave up on the book, but decided to slog through a bit more, because the writing was fairly good for a first-time novelist. The author has a very decent grasp of language and style and there were very, very few editing errors...a pleasure after some of the first novels I've read recently.

The author has done a good job, IMO, of capturing the alienation and aimlessness that some teens and young adults feel once they graduate. In the MC's case, he had little guidance and tended to be very self-defeating. Mixed in with resentments and anxiety, we had the perfect olio for a coming-of-age story.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Martin Thompson, Jr on May 09, 2013 :
Sexual frustration, marijuana smoking, underage drinking, house parties, driving way too fast… This book honestly captures what it's like to be an angry 18 year old searching for what is real and important in life through trial and error.

Paradise Squandered is a novel that revolves around the internal anxiety and inner turmoil of 18 year old protagonist Andrew Banks. The entire novel takes place the summer after Andrew graduates from high school. Even though the plot isn't very intense, somehow the reader gets sucked into Andrew’s head. The writing is excellent and very stylized.

Much like Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye, Andrew is young and inexperienced and naive about a lot of things. Also like Holden, Andrew’s narration throughout the novel is very blunt and opinionated and full of slang and things that make you wonder about his mental health or outlook on life. It made me laugh sometimes. Other times I wanted to punch him in the head.

This book speaks to the feelings of alienation and restlessness that I think all teens and young adults experience in life. When I first started the book, I didn't understand why the protagonist was so unhappy and why he had so many judgments that I didn't understand. I didn't like Andrew very much at first, but as the story went on I felt like I could at least understand where he was coming from. By the end of the story, I really felt for Andrew and wanted him to succeed. His character has a lot of depth, and he really seems like a good guy even though he is usually conflicted or self defeating. Andrew may be from a privileged background, but he carries a lot of baggage that the reader learns about throughout the course of reading.

Stefansson’s writing is brilliant, his characters are so real, and he perfectly captures the complex problems that haunt young people as they try to progress and transition into “the real world.”

This book was recommended to me by a friend of mine who knows how much I like Catcher in the Rye. I am very thankful for his suggestion and would recommend Paradise Squandered to anyone who enjoys honest coming of age style literature like Catcher in the Rye.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Martin Thompson, Jr on May 09, 2013 :
Sexual frustration, marijuana smoking, underage drinking, house parties, driving way too fast… This book honestly captures what it's like to be an angry 18 year old searching for what is real and important in life through trial and error.

Paradise Squandered is a novel that revolves around the internal anxiety and inner turmoil of 18 year old protagonist Andrew Banks. The entire novel takes place the summer after Andrew graduates from high school. Even though the plot isn't very intense, somehow the reader gets sucked into Andrew’s head. The writing is excellent and very stylized.

Much like Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye, Andrew is young and inexperienced and naive about a lot of things. Also like Holden, Andrew’s narration throughout the novel is very blunt and opinionated and full of slang and things that make you wonder about his mental health or outlook on life. It made me laugh sometimes. Other times I wanted to punch him in the head.

This book speaks to the feelings of alienation and restlessness that I think all teens and young adults experience in life. When I first started the book, I didn't understand why the protagonist was so unhappy and why he had so many judgments that I didn't understand. I didn't like Andrew very much at first, but as the story went on I felt like I could at least understand where he was coming from. By the end of the story, I really felt for Andrew and wanted him to succeed. His character has a lot of depth, and he really seems like a good guy even though he is usually conflicted or self defeating. Andrew may be from a privileged background, but he carries a lot of baggage that the reader learns about throughout the course of reading.

Stefansson’s writing is brilliant, his characters are so real, and he perfectly captures the complex problems that haunt young people as they try to progress and transition into “the real world.”

This book was recommended to me by a friend of mine who knows how much I like Catcher in the Rye. I am very thankful for his suggestion and would recommend Paradise Squandered to anyone who enjoys honest coming of age style literature like Catcher in the Rye.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Jennifer Hyndman on April 04, 2013 : (no rating)
First of all, I was expecting a teenage drama and boy did I get more than I bargained for. What a beautiful, funny, deep and well-written story of the human condition. There are so many different personalities covered from the aspiring to the aimless.

Written so well it was like reading poetry. I was really blown away that there was only one review. It was so nice to stumble across this, I feel like I found an treasure except I want to share it!!!!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Jo Leigh on Sep. 03, 2012 :
This book is funny, sincere and at times baffling in it's ability to so perfectly describe the coming of age angst that we all experience as we grow up and grow out of our disillusionment. Filled with boyhood shenanigans and college buffoonery!
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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