Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green (no spoilers)

Book: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Publication: December 28th, 2006
Source: Local Library
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary (From Goodreads):
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" (Fran├žois 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
.
My Thoughts:

John Green is absolutely brilliant. I can't believe I waited this long to read this novel. In the span of 221 pages John Green took me from happiness to sadness to peace. Some themes covered in Looking for Alaska are friendship, love, loss, the afterlife, guilt and denial.

The book starts out with Miles Halter moving to a boarding school in Alabama where he meets his roommate Chip (The Colonel) and ever so mysterious, beautiful Alaska Young. Miles is nicknamed Pudge and the story takes off from there.

The character development in Looking for Alaska was amazing. I felt so deeply connected to these characters which is why this book was so incredibly heart wrenching. Miles (Pudge) was slightly awkward, innocent boy from Florida who by his friends standards had a normal life with two parents. Then there is The Colonel who has a mom that lives in poverty and Alaska who says she is homeless.  Pudge had no idea what he was walking into when he came to The Creek, but it was an adventure he will never forget.

Then there is Chip otherwise known as The Colonel. He is Pudge's roommate. The Colonel is confident and very full of himself as far as characters go. There was something inside The Colonel that was broken that made him the way he was. The Colonel is the ring leader and gets Pudge to do many things with him on campus.

Then there is Alaska Young. This is a character that is going to stick with me for a long time. The funny part is Alaska is the type of character that I am least likely to ever look up to. Alaska enjoys sex, drinks and smokes excessively. There is something brilliant about Alaska that I just haven't quite put my finger on yet. She was the character I grew most attached to during this novel. I think part of it was the mystery behind Alaska. She was quick to ask about Pudge and The Colonel's life, but very seldom would she share her secrets.

John Green created a book full of mystery. He starts out with Before, but we have no idea what Before he is talking about. I had all these ideas running through my head of what Before could be. Then Before happened and it was least what I expected or wanted Before to be. When Before happened I was brought to tears and I started to deny that it ever happened. I felt my heart rip to pieces over this Before.

I also love how religion ties into this novel. Not so much one type of religion, but the things all religions share in common. All religions usually believe in some sort of afterlife and some end to suffering. Miles remembers people's famous last words and he tells his parts he is going to The Creek to seek a "Great Perhaps. (Francois Rabelais' last words)" I don't know if Miles really ever achieves his goal, but he does find friends that actually care about him and friends that he actually cares about also. The question Alaska wonders so often during the novel is "How will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering?" I looked up labyrinth after finishing this novel and it is a series of passages that are hard to find a way out of. Alaska finds her answer in the least expected way.

I didn't understand the cover of this book until about halfway through or the title for a matter of fact. Now I understand what the candle and the smoke represent. John Green crafted a novel that was mysterious and although I don't want to spoil the After I will say that I read that whole section in one sitting. I think an important lessons to be learned from Looking for Alaska is Hakuna Mata: You can't change the past so put it behind you, the only person you can truly control is yourself, and true friends will be there for you through thick and thin. The ones that don't matter will not. As much as The Colonel and Pudge want to blame themselves for the events that happened in Looking for Alaska it wasn't their fault. I think that is something we all need to remember in real life.

This book may be short, but Looking for Alaska changed my life. I was making up my 10 favorites of the 2nd half of 2013. I left two spaces in my favorites for the books I hadn't read yet. Now I understand why I did that. I know I have read The Fault in Our Stars and that is supposedly the best John Green book, but I think Looking for Alaska may be MY favorite John Green book. I did not feel as many emotions reading The Fault in Our Stars as I did over Looking for Alaska. I left a space in my favorites for a reason. That reason is sitting right here in my hands. Looking for Alaska is a brilliantly written novel that will resonate with me for a long time. My only regret is how long it took for me to read this amazing novel.


Thanks for reading


Rachael

7 comments:

  1. Hi! I loved reading this review. Like you, I feel this book has changed my life in ways I can't quite describe but yet are still profound. I liked how the book was both serious and funny - John Green's unique writing style is awesome. This book and these characters will definitely stick with me for a long time. Thanks for sharing your opinion!

    http://with-sugar.blogspot.ca/2014/04/book-review-looking-for-alaska-by-john.html

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts.

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  2. Hi! I also love your review. and I'm also starting to like John Green. I'm a Mitch Albom reader, but Green has captured my heart as well. Both writers' unique writing styles are just so impressive! So far, after reading The Fault in our Stars and Looking for Alaska what i found out is that Green wants to depict reality. That tangible things are not permanent but the strong and true feelings attach to that tangible thing lasts.

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    1. yes that is absolutely true. I have read The Time Keeper and Tuesdays with Morrie by Albom. I need to get back into his work.

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  3. Hi there! I love this review!
    Looking for Alaska is one of my favourite books and I don't think I've ever read a review that describes the essence of this book more than this one!
    The way that you said that at the end of the book you felt peace, this is one thing that I think a lot of readers didnt really understand. That at the end of the day, it's okay not to know anything, but to just make peace with what happened. :)

    Also I have just started a new book review blog and I would absolutely love if you could check it out and let me know what you think. I have only done one review so far but it would mean the absolute world to me xxxx

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    1. Thank you for such an awesome comment! This is one of the books that really hit home with me after my friend's mom died in a car accident a year earlier. I would love to check out your blog. Can you provide me with a link? I couldn't find it through your google plus profile.

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Hi my name is Rachael and I want to thank you for commenting on my blog. I appreciate every single comment I receive and I reply back to all comments.