Saturday, June 29, 2013
Looking for Alaska by John Green | Book Review
I just want to start off by saying (especially as this is my first book review here), this will not be summary of the book, nor will any of my other future reviews be a summary of the book. I'm not here to spoil it for you and tell you what happens, I'm here to tell you if this is a bloody good book or not, and if you should read it or stay the hell away from it.*
I was (or am) a bit late to joining the John Green bandwagon, but I heard so much about him and his work, and thought to myself, gee I better get on with it and read some of this guy's stuff. So before I had started reading Looking for Alaska I had extremely high expectations of it. I had heard a plethora of great things about it and was itching to get my hands on a copy, settle down and devour it in one go.
Perhaps it was this combination of anticipation and excitement that I built around actually reading the book, that I felt a little let down upon it’s completion. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it overall, and I felt genuinely moved, but I felt that something was missing for me.
The main character Miles Halter aka Pudge is your typical geek dorky nobody who has penchant for dead people's last words. He lives a rather dull life of studying with zero adventure, and so he decides to attend boarding school to seek a Great Perhaps (not my idea of an adventure but moving on). There he befriends a group of people, including the infamous Alaska Young. Alaska is presented as beautiful, complicated and broken. But she is also bitchy and in my opinion someone you could easily hate.
I personally don't get how Miles falls in love with her so easily, I don't see it, and in fact I don't like her character at all. Some people have said that Green intended this, and if he did he succeeded. I also don't think Pudge knew her long enough to fall for her so hard and so fast.
On the other hand Pudge is adorable and a very likeable character. There many traits in him we can all compare ourselves to. At times I even found myself laughing at how similar we are.
The book is separated into two parts, 136 days before and 136 days after, which I guess it is quite poetic. With this type of structure we learn the before of the event and the after of the event. Instead of being plunged straight into the middle and left to pick up the pieces and work out what's happening, we are given the lead up and the after math and I think this works quite well. However I feel that in the parts 'after' the event are dragged out, almost extended to make the book longer. I will admit that I did get bored with it a bit and kinda just wanted them to figure it all out already (I had figured it all out before they did, intentional? I'm not sure).
Looking for Alaska explores interesting concepts about self-discovery, love, growing up, self-destruction, friendship and doing stupid things to fit in. It is however, not a love story, not one bit. Green is a brilliant writer and it is easy to see how so many people love his work. This novel in particular captures the teenage years and the struggles that come with it quite well. You can easily take away some great life lessons from this read.
I did finish this book in about two days. It was interesting and contains all of the elements that a good book should contain, and it also has some incredible quotes. However, I don't see the fascination in it. It is definitely not my favourite book and I could probably get by without having to read it ever again. I didn't even cry (and let me tell you I am an easy crier), I did get sad and wished that certain outcomes could be different but not enough to budge some tears.
So should you read it? Yes. It is a great read, I would recommend people to read it, especially teens. You might fall in love with it and disagree with me completly, but I didn't and everyone has their own opinions. I have read since its completion Green's other works (which I like better) but that is a review for another time.
My rating: ★★★
*I hate book reviews with a passion that spoil the whole plot of the book. I want to read it myself not have you recite it word for word, just tell me if it's good or not dammit!