Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Title: Looking For Alaska
Author: John Green
Source: Purchased paperback
Buy: Amazon ~*~ Barnes & Noble
Caution: May contain spoilers

Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green's arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

~summary from Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Three words (again): candid and honest.

I’m not accustomed to reading novels told by male protagonists, so it was slightly difficult to get into Miles’ head. Not that’s he’s unlikable because I did like him. Sometimes reading a book told in the point of view of the opposite sex can be harder to get into. I found that with the first twenty or so pages. It was dull, just setting up the scenario of Miles going to a boarding school for the first time. He becomes friends with his roommate Chip (The Colonel), who nicknames him Pudge (playing on the fact that he really is the opposite). Then Miles meets more people through him, including Alaska.

Alaska. Now she’s one of those girls that bring out the side of ourselves that is hiding underneath the proper exterior we portray to the world. Her view of life and people can be contagious and upsetting at the same time. Miles is drawn to her, even though she has a boyfriend already. The scene that is quite possibly the foundation of the whole novel is when the two of them were alone and talking about Simón Bolívar’s last words: “How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!”

That was a staple throughout the book--Miles and his memorization of famous last words. The reason he went to boarding school was based on François Rabelais’ last words: “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” After reading many of the last words quotes, it made me want to read more. You know a book is good when it inspires you to do something yourself, even though it’s unoriginal.

It’s funny. I recently complained about not understanding boys, and this book was actually very eye-opening. The boys in here (Miles and Chip) are deep, deeper than you expect to ever find in some boys. So often are there male characters that are less likeable and undesirable, it was nice to see a new kind of smart boys. Not just smart, but that they have emotions, and show their emotions. At several points, I wanted to scoop them up and hold them in my arms.

There are certain books and certain words in these books that resonate in you. You take them and carefully place them into your pocket and carry them the rest of your life. I finished Looking For Alaska with a sense of understanding. Not necessarily that I knew exactly how to explain what I understood, just that I had this feeling of completion that felt like it altered my outlook slightly.

Although I enjoyed this, some may not. I can’t say why. That’s a big spoiler. Let’s just say I almost hated it when I figured out what was going to happen. However, it felt reminiscent of those books that seem awful but have a deeper meaning. John Green wrote an amazing novel here. Whether you like the story or where it ends somehow doesn’t matter. It’s the journey that counts. At least, that’s what I got out of it.

My Review: 
Very Good: Stay up late



  1. I've heard such good things about this book. I really need to get to it soon...maybe next year. ;)

  2. Hrm. I'm not sure if I'm going to like this one. Usually I am all for books in the POV of a male, but recently, I read a book about one meeting a so called life changing female and it wasn't my favourite thing. Maybe I should stop judging before I read :)

  3. I just picked this one up last week, when I realised I'd never read a John Green book. A lot of people love this one and think that it's a life-changer. Your review has certainly raised my interest; I want to see what reaction this one gets out of me.

  4. Jenny: Hope you can read it next year!

    Lan: I know what you mean, some books with similar themes just don't sound good.

    TG: It does have a life-changing effect, even if you don't like it. Can't wait to see your thoughts on it!


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