Jul 19, 2013

Looking For Alaska by John Green Review

Looking For Alaska by John Green
Release Date: December 28, 2006
Publisher: Speak; 231 pages

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.

When I am reading a book I know I am going to be reviewing, I usually take notes while I am reading.  I like to remember my emotions at particular scenes, and also it's a good way for me to not forget key things I want to mention in my reviews.  So usually, half of my review is done when I am finished reading a book.  In the case for Looking For Alaska, I actually deleted half of my notes when I finished the book.  This was because as I kept reading, my opinions changed.  It turned into a book I sort of like, to a book that I really loved.

Looking For Alaska is a young adult contemporary novel about a boy named Miles Halter who decides he wants to go to boarding school his junior year in high school.  Miles would probably best be described as a loner, but not depressed.  He's a teenager who hasn't come out of his shell yet.  When Miles arrives at Culver Creek boarding school in Alabama, he makes friends with his roommate Chip Martin aka The Colonel and his friend Alaska Young.

As I said before, I take notes when I read to review.  My first impression of Alaska was not a good one.  In fact, I actually really disliked her for most of the story.  I described her as a difficult character to like and is very manipulative.  I then pointed out that it was obvious that Miles has a crush on her, and she flirts with him even though she says she, loves her boyfriend.  But this is just the Alaska that we see on the surface.  In reality, Alaska is such a deep character.  And I don't think as a reader, you are supposed to understand her.  And by the end of the novel, you are supposed to make your own conclusions about her and her intentions.

There are no chapters in this book.  Instead the first 3/4 or so of the novel is the "before" sectioned of with a countdown of days leading up to something.  The last 1/4 is the "after".  The reader doesn't know what you are counting down to, but as you read you do start to have predictions.  My prediction ended up being wrong, and I didn't figure it out until a few pages before it actually happened.

John Green is excellent at writing teenagers.  I have now read a book from him from a male and from a female point of view, and he really has an understanding of the teenage mind.  I wish his books were around when I was in high school.  His books have enough humor and wit to keep you entertained, but they also have serious tones and life lessons.  Yes, his characters in Looking For Alaska partake in underage drinking and smoking and explicit activities, and I know a lot of people are against that.  But it is a reality that some teenagers participate in illegal activities, even the ones who get straight A's.  John Green isn't afraid to write realistic scenarios.

My only drawback of this book would be that it was a bit difficult for me to get through the first 50 or so pages.  It took me awhile to connect with the characters, but once I got the correct feel with them the story flowed better.  

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