Looking for Alaska – 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. 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.
After. Nothing is ever the same.
Review: You guys know what this book is about, right? A teenager nicknamed Pudge goes to boarding school and becomes infatuated with a girl named Alaska. Pretty much everyone I know has read and reviewed this book. I’m not sure what to say about it that hasn’t already been said.
I don’t usually reread books, but I’ve read this one three times in the past few years. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like the type of book I’d love. In fact, it has five things that I usually hate in books:
1. Excessive use of interabangs. This is possibly the most useless punctuation mark in the English language. Why does it exist?
2. High school pranks. Seriously, pranks were stupid and juvenile when I was in high school. As an adult, I don’t care to read about them.
3. Obnoxious characters. Alaska . . . just . . . ug. I do not like her. At all. Not even a little.
4. Believability issues. That final prank could have been foiled by a Google search. I think the prank should have been slightly harder for the characters to accomplish.
5. Predictability. The first time I read this book, it was obvious to me where Alaska went at the end. I don’t know why it took the characters so long to figure it out.
So, why has this book stayed in my mind for years? Why do I keep coming back to it?
It’s because of the way that the author captures emotion. Even though I don’t like Alaska, I can believe that Pudge is infatuated with her. He’s built her up in his mind and made her something greater than she actually is. I think that’s realistic behavior, especially for a teenager who’s never been in love before. I can feel Pudge’s awkwardness when he is trying to get Alaska’s attention, and I can feel his grief when he can’t have her. It takes a very talented author to make me feel something while I read. That doesn’t usually happen.
The book also explores some important themes. Looking for Alaska is about love, forgiveness, and learning to live with questions that can’t be answered. It shows that it’s impossible to fully know someone. The image of a person that you have in your head will never match up to the person in real life.
I keep coming back to this book because I get something new out of it every time I reread it. I know that I’ll want to pick it up again in a few years.