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Monday, May 19, 2014

Review (+Angry Rant): Looking for Alaska by John Green (spoiler free)

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Published: December 28th, 2006
Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction
My Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, French Renaissance writer) 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. 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.

My Review: 

I'm not going to be talking about the story or the characters too much because reading it felt more like a life experience than a book, and no one  can/should be able to look into their future. The mystery is what keeps things interesting.

Looking for Alaska is a completely wonderful story written by a distinctly wonderful man. I read this book a few months ago (some time after TFiOS) and I still think about it from time to time, which doesn't happen to me often. It's definitely one of those books that stay with you long after you've finished reading it. I usually like to start a new book right after finishing one, but not this time. I had to give myself some time (about a week) to think about it, ponder it and mull it over and over. In my opinion, this book has served its purpose. It made me think and it touched me deeply. At first, I gave LFA four stars because I felt like giving it five stars would mean I'm cheating on The Fault in Our Stars, but a few days ago I decided that it really does deserve five. Both LFA and TFiOS are written by John Green, however,  they each tell different stories about different things (there are, of course, some similarities), and they both affected me in similar, yet different ways. 

I really liked the main characters, Miles "Pudge" Halter, Alaska Young, Chip "the Colonel" Martin, Takumi Hikohito, and Lara Buterskaya. I felt connected to the characters even though I don't have that much in common with them. The plotline was BRILLIANT. It almost felt like an autobiography. John Green knows what he's doing. He thoroughly understands his characters. Actually, he thoroughly understands teenagers in general, which in my opinion is what makes him one of my favorite authors. 

Even though it was spoiled (by spoilers), the story kept me guessing and some events did take me completely by surprise. I laughed and cried, but that's OK because that's what I admire about J. Green. Everything doesn't always go the way we want them to and that's reality. The book is unique. It consists of two parts: 'Before' and 'After' which add to the mystery. I'm not much of a historical novel aficionado nor am I particularly religious, but I enjoyed the fact that Miles is intrigued by people's last words (before they die), and the aspects of different religions discussed. 

I've recently read a review where some parents were calling LFA "pornographic and disgusting," but you know the famous expression, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", well pornography is in the eye of the beholder too, and I guess some beholders must have disgusting eyes. In one of the author's videos, he said, "Hank, I don't think there's a single halfway-normal person in the world who would find a single thing in my book in anyway arousing. There is one very frank sex scene. It is awkward, un-fun, disastrous, and wholly unerotic." Here's a link to the video. If you are a person that's easily offended I just want to say that everything has positive and negative points, there is more to Looking for Alaska then the so-called sexually explicit scenes. 

My Favorite LFA Quotes: 

  • “The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.” 
  • “Thomas Edison's last words were "It's very beautiful over there. I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful.” 
  • “So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.” 
  • “Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. (...) You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” 
  • “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'.”
Who Do I Recommend This Book To: Anyone. Young or old. I especially recommend this book to anyone grieving and/or looking for closure. If you liked "The Catcher in the Rye", by J.D. Salinger, you'll love LFA.