Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Looking for Alaska - Review

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Release Date: January 1, 2005
Format: Kindle
Publisher: Penguin Publishing


Before…Miles "Pudge" Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave "the Great Perhaps" even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy 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. She 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. (From GOODREADS)

Expectation: Once one reads a John Green book, one cannot help but have high expectations for other John Green books. The man makes it very difficult for himself. Each time one reads one of his books, they'll think, 'well, he can't top this one'. 

Market/Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary


Alaska is a place. You can find it deeply embedded within the fisted heart of Miles ‘Pudge’ Halter. He who set out to discover the Great Perhaps found it burning brightly in the person of Alaska Young. Sometimes, though, you have to be careful what you ask for. The Great Perhaps is a fabulous journey…and a tumultuous burden.

Looking for Alaska is one of those books you cling to at the end. I know this doesn’t make sense, but the love I have for LFA makes me think of A Separate Peace…not the book itself, but the love I have for it. That’s how it goes sometimes, and for no definable reason…you equate books by the feelings you get when reading them, not by subject matter or similarities they share. Book love. It’s an odd thing. These two books will always be intertwined in my brain not because they’re in any way similar, but because the feelings I experienced while reading them were.

That being said, I absolutely adored Looking for Alaska.


~ 'She had the kind of eyes that predisposed you to supporting her every endeavor.'
~ 'The Great Perhaps was upon us, and we were invincible.'
~ 'We ran like we had golden shoes.'
~ 'We are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be.'
~ ‘I wanted to be one of those people who have streaks to maintain, who scorch the ground with their intensity. But for now, at least I knew such people, and they needed me, just like comets need tails.’

When I say these are some of my favourite quotes, I may be downplaying it a bit…these are tattoo-able, especially the second quote. Green has such a way of working life mantras into his prose…he probably doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. He’s an absolute master at it!

Alaska Young kind of deserves the pedestal her friends and co-students almost unwittingly put her on. Alaska Young is awesome. Our narrator knows it, too. Pudge (Miles Halter) may have been late to the party, but he definitely arrived at just the right spot when he got there. He arrives at Culver Creek Boarding School a year after everybody else…but he gets to share a room with The Colonel, Alaska’s best friend and confidante. That puts Pudge right in the middle of the Great Perhaps that he craves so obsessively.

I loved Pudge’s uniquely quirky ability to memorize famous last words…and perhaps this is the personality trait that intrigued his new friends and quickly ingratiated him into their lives. Without it being said, I had the feeling that these new people in Pudge’s life—The Colonel, Alaska, Takumi, Lara—these were the in-crowd. And he effortlessly fell in with them.

Pudge becomes instantly enamoured with Alaska Young, a girl who is always referring to her off-campus boyfriend…always pointing out that she is not available. She is the risk-taking, free spirited girl who is comfortable with whoever she is on any given day…on the surface. She’s the girl that everybody wants a piece of—they sense her magic, she is the centre that the rest of the Culver Creek Boarding School orbits around.

But there are complications and secrets in the life of Alaska Young. Viewed through the eyes of our narrator, we begin to put the pieces of Alaska Young together. Pudge becomes one of the tails to her fiercely burning comet. He allows the story he is telling to be about her, not him.

John Green is a complete and utter MASTER. I can’t even get into what happens in this novel without plastering SPOILER ALERT all over everything, but I will say it is kind of broken down into a BEFORE and an AFTER. There is a great event that ricochets the dynamic circle of friends into a cyclone of emotion. There are a lot of hi-jinx and one-upping in the BEFORE, as everybody tries to outdo everybody else in the practical joke department. And there is a lot of introspection in the AFTER…a lot of questioning, soul-searching, etc.

Looking for Alaska is an amazing character study. Phenomenal characters you will love forever! This is definitely in my pile to be read yearly. Right there beside my beloved copy of A Separate Peace.

You’re gonna love this one! It’s my favourite John Green title.

Expectation: Out of the water!

SIZE: 5 (1/2) 

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