January 13, 2013

Review: Looking For Alaska

Looking for Alaska by John Green
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Coming of Age
Release Date: December 28, 2006
Buy Links:

AmazonBook Depository

Book Description:

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" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. Then 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.

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This book literally set on my bookshelf for six years. I’m one of those book hoarders that buys books in bulk and doesn’t have as much time to read them as I’d like. So when I accidentally left my Kindle at work one night and didn’t feel like making the drive back to get it, I grabbed this one off my shelf, dusted it off and curled up in bed. I chose this one that night because I’d read the author’s book The Fault in Our Stars, a few weeks ago, and loved it (review on it to come at a later date, unless Cori or Andi beat me to it!).

So maybe my expectations for this book were too high. It’s not that I didn’t like it. I did like it. I just didn’t love it the way that I did The Fault in Our Stars. But it was still worth the read, and I’m still going to recommend it.

This is not an out-and-out romance book. Yes, Alaska steals Pudge’s heart, but this is anything but an uncomplicated romance. She has a boyfriend, for one. And he has a girlfriend. And Alaska’s mood swings are epically hard to deal with, even for Pudge. But there is something very honest about all of the characters, which is what makes this book endearing to the reader (or at least to THIS reader). None of them are perfect. They all make mistakes. They betray one another (and I’m not talking about necessarily romantically, though there’s that, too), they hurt one another. But through it all, it’s about a group of friends whose lives revolve around their friendship, and how they’re able to endure all of the things that they go through because of that friendship.

In addition to friendship, this book spends a lot of time pondering about the meaning of life and death, which makes sense because Pudge is taking a world religions course, and it’s something that gets discussed repeatedly because of that. He comes to this conclusion at one point:

“People, I thought, wanted security. They couldn’t bear the idea of death being a big black nothing, couldn’t bear the thought of their loved ones not existing, and couldn’t even imagine themselves not existing. I finally decided that people believed in an afterlife because they couldn’t bear not to.”

There are a few moments while reading the book that you can kind of get a sense of what is going to happen. Or at least what is going to possibly happen. But for me, I had a hard time connecting with one of the main characters (Alaska) in any way that would make me feel attached to her. There are a lot of touching moments in the book, but none of them made me teary-eyed personally. But that’s just me. Have you read Looking for Alaska? What are your thoughts on it?

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Author Bio:

John Green's first novel, Looking for Alaska, won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award presented by the American Library Association. His second novel, An Abundance of Katherines, was a 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His next novel, Paper Towns, is a New York Times bestseller and won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best YA Mystery. In January 2012, his most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars, was met with wide critical acclaim, unprecedented in Green's career. The praise included rave reviews in Time Magazine and The New York Times, on NPR, and from award-winning author Markus Zusak. The book also topped the New York Times Children's Paperback Bestseller list for several weeks. Green has also coauthored a book with David Levithan called Will Grayson, Will Grayson, published in 2010. The film rights for all his books, with the exception of Will Grayson Will Grayson, have been optioned to major Hollywood Studios.

In 2007, John and his brother Hank were the hosts of a popular internet blog, "Brotherhood 2.0," where they discussed their lives, books and current events every day for a year except for weekends and holidays. They still keep a video blog, now called "The Vlog Brothers," which can be found on the Nerdfighters website.

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