Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Long Overdue Post - Looking For Alaska

Long overdue in two ways: I'm sure plenty of you have read this by now, and finished it a few weeks ago, actually.

"If people were like rain, then I was drizzle and she was a hurricane."

Above is just one quote that stood out to me with such ferocity, I'm amazed the words didn't jump off the page and strangle me. Who can come up with a quote that says so much in such a simple way? Well, obviously John Green can. This man is a literary genius, in my honest opinion.

Now yes, I have only read one book by Mr. Green. But I have An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns sitting on my piano (...yes, that's where they are sitting, seeing as my piano is right next to my bed...) anxiously waiting to be read as much as I am waiting anxiously to read them. But for now, this post is about Looking For Alaska.

Who here has read this book? Show of hands please... yeah, I figure that's probably most of you. If not, it's probably on your list. And if I'm still wrong, then don't I seem pretentious? If you haven't read it, Looking for Alaska is about a boy named Miles "Pudge" Halter. He decides to leave his boring life in Florida in search of "the great perhaps." He is fascinated with last words, and that's about the only thing that makes him interesting, to start. Then he moves to a boarding school, Culver Creek to be exact. There, Miles meets his roommate "The Colonel," who is the one who deemed Miles "Pudge." Shortly after, Miles... er, Pudge, collides (not literally) into Alaska Young. Surprisingly, Alaska is not a nickname, but it fits the outrageous personality that she has.

So the trio, along with Takumi and occasionally Lara, spend the start of the year smoking, drinking, and pulling pranks. And it all leads up to a fantastic prank, and a night that goes horribly wrong. And that's it, without me trying to give away spoilers.

There are so many things about this book that makes it great -- possibly the greatest book I have ever read, of course that's merely an opinion. But for me, it knocked A Clockwork Orange out of the number 1 spot!

Where do I begin?
First of all, there's the format. John Green set the book into two sections: before and after. I'll compare it to a roller coaster. Before is the giant hill. You're thrilled! You're so excited as you travel up the hill, the clicking of the chain beneath you egging you on, setting you up, and running a whole bunch of different emotions through your head while you wait. And after, you go down. It was totally expected. You knew it was going to happen, and you even knew what it was going to be like, but that doesn't take any of the excitement out of the fall.

Based on that analogy, it's safe to say that what happens "after" is pretty predictable, but it still caught me by surprise. I expected the lead into it to be completely different, so it changed my perspective, and made me attached to the book.

What else?
Realism. I swear John Green kidnapped a bunch of teenagers and turned them into a book because the dialogue is perfect. Not only that, it isn't mind numbing -- which can be said about the book as a whole.

It's literary. There isn't some supernatural plot element. There isn't some corny romance. In fact, the way this romance plays out... well, I think Nathan Bransford can sum that up better than I can right here.

The characters have so much to them. From the asian kid to Alaska, I saw them all clearly in my head. Their backstories weren't just stuff thrown in there to fill up their histories. They made sense, as though they were real people. Even better was the minimal physical description, which allowed me as a reader to use my imagination on who the characters were. Of course, I have to say that I did imagine Alaska Young as LynZ from MSI. Can you see it at all?

Okay, so at this point, I'm losing steam and I think I'm beginning to not make anymore sense. So I'm going to leave off here, and let you decide whether Looking For Alaska is a worthwhile read, or if I'm going crazy.

Peace out!


  1. Hi Becca!

    I don't know why it took me so long to discover your blog. (Yes, I do. I only today figured out that clicking on a person's name would take me to their profile and then their blog. Duh, Dianne.)

    I have not read Looking for Alaska, but now I'm going to have to put it on my rather lengthy TBR list. An Abundance of Katherines had caught my eye before, because of the title, but I never got around to reading it either. I'll have to look into both of these more closely. Thanks!

  2. This one has been in my TBR pile a while but never seems to make it to the top.

  3. I've had this book on my list for a while, but still haven't read it. I just popped the John Green cherry in May when I read Paper Towns. (Which was awesome.) I have to read Looking for Alaska and soon.

  4. I feel like the only person in the world who has not read any John Green... I did look for this book at the library today, though, and was disappointed that they didn't have it. After your review, I just might have to go out and buy it.

    Thanks for the recommendation!

  5. OKAy- I actually checked this out today from my library, and just started reading it. Liking it so far, but I had to skim your review because I was afraid of spoilers.
    glad to hear it's someone's favorite book!