Book Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Author: John Green

Publisher: Speak

Release date: December 28, 2006

Rating: 5 stars – I LOVED THIS TO PIECES!

Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million

SYNOPSIS

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

TREAD CAREFULLY. SPOILERS MAY LIE AHEAD! TIS NOT TOO LATE TO TURN BACK.

Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia.

John Green’s writing is thoroughly addictive, plunging you into a world full of raw emotion and a realism that hits close to home.

This is my first John Green book EVER and I can see why so many people love and adore his books. John Green’s writing is thoroughly addictive, plunging you into a world full of raw emotion and realism that hits close to home. Green doesn’t sugar coat or sprinkles his words with flowery writing. It’s powerful, a true voice in literature. The story will compel you and stir provocative thoughts, notions that will leave you rendered speechless.

I really enjoyed reading from Miles “Pudge” Halter’s perspective. He was this regular teenage boy, who loves to read biographies and remembers famous last words. He seeks the “Great Perhaps,” which I found was a really good characteristic for Pudge. He wants adventure, foreign land to discover. He finds that at Culver Creek (a private school he decided to go to for the rest of his high school career).

Pudge finds his Great Perhaps with the help of Alaska Young, a carefree and often times unpredictable girl. Pudge instantly finds Alaska Young attractive and falls in love with her in the end. Alaska is impulsive, selfish, and can be a bitch (excuse my language). But Pudge loves her nonetheless. She is the reason why he breaks out of his shell. When a terrible event occurs, nothing is ever the same. Pudge and his friends the Coronal, Takumi, and Lara struggle to surpass it.

I knew going into this book that a main character dies. That is the terrible event. But there is a different knowing something happens and experiencing it. It brought back memories of a friend of mine who died in a car accident my junior year of high school. The feelings in the novel were real. There’s denial, anger, grieving, blame, and finally resolution or acceptance.

It was very hard getting through the After part because it was difficult reading through it without stopping to cry. There were times where I just had to put the book down and breathe. Just breathe.

Even though, it hurt to read After – I found it positively enlightening. I loved how Green had a deeper meaning within the surface of the novel. It was about loss and trying to live with unanswered questions. There’s also a sense of hope, of realizing that there is a way to get out of the labyrinth, a reoccurring motif. Here is where my inner English major-esque self appears.  The way to get out is to forgive and to accept. I know it sounds ambiguous, but it makes sense when loss is concerned.

The other thing I really loved about this novel was the characters. Alaska was a bit turbulent, a force to be reckoned with. But I liked her because there are often times in literature where a girl – much less a main female protagonist – is off the rails imperfect and unstable. Her flaws are what I admired and at times I wished that I was like Alaska, taking the plunge and living recklessly. She was very in tune with her emotions, in a way that caused her to uncontrollably break down or fall asleep the next second.

Pudge’s roommate, Chip Martin “Coronal” becomes his best friend. Their relationship, especially after the accident, speaks columns of what it means to have someone there during the dark times. They decide to undergo an investigation of what happened “after.” But after months of not getting any hints, the passion for it begins to fade. Pudge realizes that memories fade, but not because we don’t want them to, because everything that comes together falls apart with time.

There are so many life lessons that I learned and was reminded of while reading Looking For Alaska. Some of the feelings that ensued were not ones that I wanted to relive, but in a way I was very thankful for them. We can’t suppress them, nor can we ignore them. I believe that Looking For Alaska is a great coming of age story full of friendship, laughs, sex, loss, and hope.

I am incredibly excited for tomorrow night where I will hand out copies of Looking For Alaska for World Book Night. It’s part of the reason why I choose this book and finally settled down to read it. And I don’t regret doing so for one second. Looking For Alaska will stay with me for a very long time and it’s a definite book I recommend to you all.

Memorable quotes:

When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are.

The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.

Thomas Edison’s last words were ‘It’s very beautiful over there’. I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.

So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.

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2 Comments

  1. Wishlist Wednesday #4 | Allison's Book Bag
  2. Looking for Alaska | Peter J Verdil

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