Looking for Alaska by John Green
Before. 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” (François 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.
Nothing is ever the same.
The thing about reading John Green, is that I always finish one of his books and fill completely filled with a million things to say and nothing to say. Like, how can you possibly summarize such an excellent reading experience? How do you put into words the magic of artistry that is a JG novel? How do you explain how awed you are by his work and intensely sad that you’ll probably never be that good?
Oh, JG, the things you do to my heart and soul.
If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, you’ll notice that I’ve more or less managed to read his books in reverse order of publication. (First, The Fault in Our Stars, Second, Paper Towns) I still have Will Greyson, Will Greyson and An Abundance of Katherines to read. The first was written with David Levithan, so I don’t really consider it a JG book per se. I may or may not have mentioned this before, but my first encounter with JG happened in high school, when I picked up Katherines, read a couple pages, and put it down. I honestly don’t even know why, though I don’t usually give up on books. Only through sheer miracle of persuasion (what’s up Andrew!) was I convinced to give him another go. Intentionally or unintentionally, I’m saving that one for last. Reasons?
I hold two things to be very true about myself. 1) If I don’t like something right away, I don’t like it. This principle applies spectacularly well in shopping. I guess you could also say it’s a stringent belief in “go with your gut”. I feel like if I deliberate on something too long, I’m riddled with doubt that I made the wrong choice. Which isn’t to say I’m always right. I also apply the rule that, if something keeps haunting me after the moment’s passed, I made the wrong decision and I must attempt to rectify it, if possible. 2) I judge people hardcore. I’ve also noticed, the people I straight didn’t like for one reason or another, ended up becoming some of my best friends. Likewise, I’ve often been proved false by people I immediately liked and attached myself to.
So what does that have to do with the book or this review that isn’t happening? Maybe nothing. Maybe something. I reserve judgment until the day I once again attempt to read Katherines.
Alright, Looking for Alaska. Was amazing. I’m sure many of you have read it and can attest to its amazingness.
One of the things I liked about JG novels (this was the case in Paper Towns in particular) is that the object of idolatry isn’t always worthy of it. I didn’t like Alaska all that much. I mean, I did, in that I felt sad when she died and moved by Pudge’s letter about her, but I liked her more dead than alive. Which is something JG talks about on his Looking for Alaska page on his website (only look at the individual pages if you’ve read the books!). How we tend to remember the dead as much more “beautiful” than they were in life. I think that definitely happened to me along my reading experience.
Another thing I liked about this book, was that JG spent so long crafting it. By my count, at least five year. FIVE YEARS! To get to 221 pages of beauty. Which are beautiful, but still, only 221 pages! If you haven’t read it yet, think about that. Five years went into every precise word and sentence.
One more thing. I just noticed it’s a purple candle on that cover. The entire time I’ve been reading this book, I didn’t take that in. I thought it was just some disembodied smoke.