Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Published: December 28th 2006 by Speak
Genre: YA Contemporary

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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” (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.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

I have been avoiding reading John Green for a good long while now, mostly because he is such a well loved icon of YA literature. Maybe I was afraid the story wouldn’t live up to the hype. Maybe I was afraid I’d be all gushy along with everyone else. The point being, I put off reading this book. But, it was chosen as one of the Book Twirps February Read Alongs, so I decided to give it a go.

So, this book. Eh.

The beginning was amusing enough, but it was one of those things I could vaguely enjoy without investing a lot of thought/emotion. The characters didn’t do it for me. They are all these super smart teens, who are reasonably attractive, go to an amazing school, and are the kind of friends everyone hopes to have. And yet they spend all their free time looking for a distraction from their own lives. With a lot of showing off how super smart they were. And so cool, in that fuck da police and we’re too cool to be cool kind of way. To me they sounded like pretentious little shits and had I gone to school with them, I wouldn’t have liked them much.

Then came the big climax, and… I felt nothing. It didn’t make me cry, didn’t make me contemplate the meaning of life, didn’t give me hope in the darkness. In fact, I started skimming pages after that, ready for the story to end, but still semi curious about whether they manage to solve the mystery of what happened to the girl.

I don’t know, man. Maybe books that require a lot of thinking and philosophizing are just not for me. Perhaps I’m not smart enough to appreciate a story like this. To me it was a bit like the books you have to read in school, the ones that are supposedly good for your development, but really, who gives a crap about development, the material is boring.

The only character I vaguely rooted for was the Colonel. Had he been the focus of the story, I might have liked it more. Maybe. The romance bits were unappealing to me. Also, I get that Miles is kind of a socially inept nerd, but what teenage boy needs someone to explain to him how blowjobs work? That AFTER a scene in which the characters watch porn. Really, he hasn’t yet discovered on his own that some kind of friction is needed? Psah, I say.

Sorry, Mr Green. I still think you’re a totally cool dude, though.


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.

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2 Responses to Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

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