Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Looking for Alaska

This review is going to contain spoilers. I always try to write spoiler-free reviews, but this time I couldn't. The spoilers will be marked, but read at your own risk.

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Release Date: March 3, 2005
Publisher: Dutton
Cover Designer:
Age Audience: YA
Genre: Contemporary
Tagline: First friend. First girl. Last words.
Summary: Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

My Review:
Mr. John Green, once again you have impressed me.
Well, it's not really "again" because this was his debut, but it is for me because this is his second novel I've read.

Culver Creek was nothing like I expected, and I mean that in a good way. When I think of a boarding school, I usually picture a grand old mansion in the northeast with a regal history and vintage furniture in every room. Instead, Culver Creek was in Birmingham, Alabama, and everything about it was southern. It was a very unique take.

I felt that the "before" section of the book dragged a little. There were many scenes showing Miles hanging out with Alaska and the Colonel and getting to know them. I just wanted to get on with the story.
But when the story did move on, I wasn't ready for it at all.

*spoilers* I already knew that Alaska was going to die because the summary on the publication page mentioned a "fatal car accident", but when it did happen I was not prepared. I actually cried for the first twenty pages of the "after" section, because I could really feel Miles' pain and grief as he tried to adjust to life without Alaska. *spoilers*

There were a few parts of the book that weren't huge aspects, but I couldn't stop thinking about them. For example, Alaska's theory that imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. I never would have thought of it, but now I realize how true it is. And if that wasn't enough:
"If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane."
That, ladies and gentlemen, is perfection. One of the best sentences I've ever read.

I also have something very important to point out. I've seen more than a few reviews on Goodreads stating "all of John Green's novels are basically the same story told over and over again". This is not true.
I have read Paper Towns, and it was uniquely different from Looking for Alaska. The plots of the two books contrasted, as did the characters. Yes, Miles and Quentin have some similar personality traits, but not enough to dub them "the same character". Alaska and Margo are like that as well: they have things in common, but are two different characters. I actually liked Alaska more than I liked Margo.

Even though there were one or two things I didn't like about this book, the things I did were so good that it's more than worthy of 4.5 stars. Looking for Alaska, you deserved every bit of your Printz Award.

1 comment:

  1. I steered clear of the spoiler part, but thanks for the great review. That sentence really is perfect and I imagine that it is even more perfect in the context that it is used in the novel. I haven't read any books by John Green (in fact I hadn't even heard of him before I started blogging), but I have heard that people really like his books and I think I must try and read one for myself. :)


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