Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Review 10. Looking For Alaska

Book: Looking For Alaska
Author: John Green
Genre: Young adult novel
Pages: 221
Published: March, 2005

Summary: 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" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. 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.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

“Francois Rabelais. He was a poet. And his last words were "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." That's why I'm going. So I don't have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.” 

So I'm gonna section this review off in time sequence, to please all those Looking For Alaska fans out there.

Before. So the book introduces the protagonist, Miles Halter, a lovable dweeb, who like all of us, has an obsession. Famous last words. Although it's not the most "mainstream" of obsessions, it does make a more relatable and overall "human" character. I praise John Green for making very realistic characters with a lot of layers. Miles is not the most exciting character at the beginning of the book, but it gives him more room to grow.

Now onto the story. I believe the real story starts when Alaska is first introduced. She is a complex, beautiful, free-wheeling teenage girl. But what I enjoyed most about her, even about the whole story, is the fact that there is always some mystery to uncover. In the beginning, Alaska is the one to take charge and invite Miles or "Pudge", as she now calls him, into her little clique which consists of her, Takumi, and the Colonel. I really enjoyed the whole "before" part because you had the chance to delve into this fun and exciting world of high school pranks and bufriedos (Which are fried burritos). The group, including a sweet girl named Lara, bond very quickly, revealing many secrets. Good and bad. I also enjoyed the innocence of the relationship between Miles and Alaska. It was ironic to see that she was more experienced in the dating field than he was. I think it made the story even more quirky and unique. It's really refreshing reading a book that is filled with so much joy and fun. But then there's reality...

After. That's when my heart began to shatter. My mind, crumbled. My spirit, snuffed out like a candle. Now for the sake of spoilers, I will not reveal what happened. But I will tell you, this is the part of the story that really makes you think. You wonder how this could ever happen and struggle to believe that it did. Just like for the characters, it all happens in a blur. 

But don't get me wrong, there are some fun things imbedded in this part of the story. Yes, that's right, I'm talking about THE BEST HIGH SCHOOL PRANK EVER!!! It was truly genius and I can't believe John Green would not only write about this, but he actually did that exact prank in his boarding high school! I will post a link to him discussing his senior prank on Youtube below.

I must put out a warning though. IF YOU DO NOT ENJOY HAVING LOOSE ENDS NOT TIED UP IN THE END THEN YOU SHOULD PUT THIS BOOK DOWN RIGHT NOW. The reason that this book makes you think so hard is that John Green leaves it up for the readers to decide what really happened. I personally love this. It doesn't limit the options of the story, it makes it infinite. It makes this book all the more real. In real life, happy endings don't always occur. And there's not always that moment of clarity where you understand why someone did what they did, or how everything turned out in the end. Sometimes stories end the same way they begin, with mystery.

Throughout this book, Green writes a lot about Simon Bolivar and the labyrinth. Miles seems to question how to get out of this labyrinth of suffering more and more towards the ending of the book. Alaska seems to think straight and fast is the only way. But Miles concludes...

“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.”

If there is one thing that I took away from this book is to always go for it. Seek a Great Perhaps. Life is so short and you shouldn't waste you time doing nothing. So many people will never get the chance to have a long life and follow through on their dreams, if you have a chance to do so, don't ever take it for granted. No one deserves to have a life wasted.

I prescribe one dose of Looking For Alaska by John Green to any reader who is A. A fan of John Green and B. Likes to read the truth.

Read it. Love it. Live it.

- stELla

(p.s. here's the link:

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