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Looking for Alaska by John Green; Review

April 13, 2010

Title: Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green

Published: December 28, 2006

Number of Pages: 256

Rating: 5/5

Quote:

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.”

Review:

This is a book that is everything. Everything that we believe matters and everything that we think doesn’t but really does. It encompasses all and displays all for its reader to see.

Love, hope, forgiveness, sorrow, uncontrollable fury, suspense, resignation, laughter, sarcasm, rebellion, idiocy, mind-boggling questions. Everything that makes literature interesting, that makes characters lovable or hate-worthy or simply intriguing. Everything that makes life. And it’s all in Looking for Alaska; inexplicably contained within roughly two hundred and fifty pages and two pieces of shiny, thumb-print stained paper.

Pudge (honestly, I can’t remember his real name), an ironically lanky sixteen-year-old boy, becomes set on discovering the Great Perhaps and decides to go to a boarding school miles and miles from home. There, he meets the Colonel (his roommate), Takumi, Lara, and Alaska Young.

Alaska is a fascinating girl. The kind that holds the answers to all the questions you’re dying to ask her but absolutely refuses to give them. She frustrates Pudge, befriends him, and “makes” him fall in love with her. She’s a pain in the butt and she’s a miracle. She’s bubbly and mopey. The only thing predictable about her is her unpredictability.

But that’s all Before. Before the After. Before the Moment. When Alaska goes and does something unpredictable.

That’s when the sorrow, the hatred, and the guilt arise. Everything seems to be rolling downhill, so swiftly that Pudge has a difficult time assessing where he is before he’s somewhere else entirely. Piecing together bits of Alaska’s character, answering seemingly unanswerable questions, etc. become necessary for Pudge – and the rest of the people Alaska has affected – to keep on functioning.

And this book is incredible. It belongs in the YA literature hall of fame.

John Green’s style of writing has ultimately become one of my favorites. He can embody great meaning in so few words. It’s astounding. He isn’t afraid to speak philosophically on occasion and does so in a way that any teenager could understand. This book is thought-provoking. Literally provoking. It’s like an itch. Or a tick.

Every character in Looking for Alaska is amazing. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I loved most of them, and the few I “hated”, I loved to hate. It’s a win-win for the reader. Especially wonderful was the main character. His voice was strong, and every word, every action, was in character. His likability is inarguable. He was intellectual at times but entirely a sixteen-year-old boy. I also appreciated that all of the main characters were smart in their own way. Of course, they made stupid decisions as well, but I imagine they could talk incessantly and not bore you with ridiculous gossip. They were witty, clever, and entertaining. I would think I’d stepped into some sublime world if I could only carry on a conversation with them (and technically, I would have had to, as they are fictional).

I did have a problem with some of the content, though. There was way too much swearing for my taste, and the “F” word became pretty frequent. If I ever lend this book out (which I certainly will), I’m going to search the pages for ridiculous profanity and scribble it out. I don’t enjoy writing in books, for the most part, but my tolerance has a limit. There was also a scene I skipped over completely. It was revolting (pages 126-128, approximately).

Now that I might have entirely talked you out of this book, let me rewind and say that, yes, these kids make some really crappy, naughty decisions at times, but they are good people. Wonderful people. Just skip the bits of crap (especially pages 126-128!).

Looking for Alaska is a masterpiece. It’s $8.99 price at Borders is an outrage, but ideal, considering how many people want to read and reread it. I’m certain that I will read this book dozens of times before my dying day.

Frankly, it’s just one of those astounding reads. It’s a greatly affecting story, one that readers will love and eat up for years. It’s amazing, how simple love is. Love for books especially. It’s just there, undeniable, unfaltering. Thrilling.

Read Looking for Alaska. Sure, you might want to find a scribbled-on copy. Make sure to censor as much as possible. But the story’s beneath the cuss words and occasional nastiness. The characters are there, too. Uncover them and let them breathe. They’ll speak to you.

REMINDER: You could win 1 of 5 wonderful copies of Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick if you click and enter.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dominique permalink
    April 13, 2010 7:56 PM

    What does Alaska do?

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