Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking for Alaska by John Green | REVIEW

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Number of Pages: 221
Date Published: March 3, 2005
Rating: 4.5/5

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. (goodreads)

"Alaska, this is Pudge. Pudge memorizes people's last words. Pudge, this is Alaska. She got her boob honked over the summer." - Chip/The Colonel

Where to start? It's been a while since I read this, I've just recently skimmed over it some, so bear with me... When I bought this book on my shopping spree, it was the very last one on the shelf and the cover itself had me in looove. I didn't quite expect the harsh content this novel addresses, though. Not to say I didn't like it, I mean; but... *Shrugs* I'm not used to things being thrown so blandly in, things like sex and cursing and drugs. But that's what being a teenager is all about.

But this book isn't only about that. It goes with the emotions and feelings and wonders of life all teens experience, and it really hits close to home for the YA readers who pick it up and try it out. It deals with loss of a loved one, acquirement of new friends, family, and enemies. Pudge's journey for the Great Perhaps rocekts you into a world of broken rules, drinking games, deep-hearted religious discussions, and deep-thought words.

The writing is fantastic. It's easy to look over the raw use of cursing when it comes to Pudge's thoughts—it's just who he is. It's hard to connect to some of the characters first, but I think that's how this book is meant to be perceived. Pudge has a hard time connecting to them all too, but eventually becomes one of them. Each character has a different trait, a diversity that's healthy for this novel.

Now, one thing I notice is that so many people compare this to Lord of the Flies and The Catcher in the Rye. Here's my question:

How. The. Heck?

I loved Looking for Alaska...despised Lord of the Flies and Catcher in the Rye. How does that work? I honestly see nothing of Holden Caulfield in Pudge... Pudge has determination. He has a goal he's working for. He's in love. The last thing is just about the only damn thing I see in common between them. Holden is pathetic, unmotivated, and just plain boring. Sorry for Catcher in the Rye lovers, ignore my bashing! Carrying on, the only similarity of Lord of the Flies is the lack of authority—but it's not that there's a lack in Alaska. Just a disregard of it.

Who knows? Maybe it's just me. Probably. It's hard for me to get so attached to classics. I get my hopes up for them when people rave on and on about them, and I end up disappointed. Just about the only ones I like are Where the Red Fern Grows and The Call of the Wild. Enough about the classics, back to Alaska!

...Which definitely deserves a place on the shelves with those classics.

You'll find yourself falling for each character. For the Colonel's no-nonsense, video-gaming, pranking attitude and Alaska's addicting no-laws-to-life rule. Takumi's Japanese charm and humor leads you on, and even Lara's timidity draw you in like an addict for the words Pudge uses to describe them all.

Once you reach 'After', you feel the grief and rage at Alaska's loss. You understand Pudge's feelings, his hopelessness, his loss for the girl he loved, his Great Perhaps. You follow him, delving into the mystery of suicide versus accident with him. The curiosity isn't annoying or boring, only sad. You may find tears in his conclusions, you may find relief or any swirling mass of emotions.

Looking for Alaska is an amazing book that I recommend. If you don't mind drinking, cigarettes, and sex, at least. [If you couldn't guess, that's what contributed the -0.5 stars. (: ] Cheers for Alaska Young and John Green! My friend met him a few weeks ago. Incredibly jealous...

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