Monday, May 18, 2015

Guest Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Publication Date:  December 28th, 2006
Publisher: Speak
Source: Bought it
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Summary: 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.
The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.” 
Today we have the first guest post. Looking for Alaska is my favorite John Green book and I finally got my friend Sara to read it. I also was able to get her to write a review about her thoughts. Here is her review:

The first thing I look for in a book is the character building. Whether it be love or hate I need to feel for the characters. I need them to be relatable even if I have nothing in common with them. This is where John Green excels. He does an exceptional job in capturing human nature within each of his characters. You can picture each one of them and know how they’ll react in a certain situation, or not, as was the case with Alaska, which is in itself a different type of beast. When it happens, you grieve. It’s sad. They’re your friends and you want to be there giving them all hugs. Honestly, I had no idea what was going to happen and I think it was better that way. The event was well done. It wasn’t flashy or in your face, it was real, it happened in a non-spectacular way, just as in real life.

Death is something that every human on this planet thinks of. It’s inevitable. The second thing I  appreciated was Pudge’s obsession with last words. This book has made me fascinated with last words. There is a lot of wisdom and irony associated with someone’s last words. Although for as much as he obsesses, I feel like there was a moment where he acknowledged that he didn’t know what the deceased’s last words were, but not as much as I thought he would. Either way I think it's an interesting take on further understanding human nature in general. How last words change in the situation: being in a state of knowing death is imminent or thinking you have more time. The shift from lighthearted to serious was more effective in the first half of the book and brought about more feeling, maybe because the character that created that shift wasn’t there in the second half and the memory alone wasn’t strong enough to bring it about. The person who’s story was the most serious and sad was gone, and I had a hard time having pity for people who were still living and had much better circumstances than the one they were grieving over.

Which leads into my only complaint: pace. The book starts off as an immediate page-turner. It’s upbeat, lighthearted, and made me laugh harder than I ever had at a book. You really feel as if you’re there and a little jealous because you know you’re not and wish you were. There’s a guilt trip, that takes them “Looking for Alaska”, that drives the second part of the book to completion, I just didn’t get the same type of page-turning feeling I got through the first part. It tried to be serious, but I didn’t get enough transition as from the first part to really feel the remorse. There wasn’t enough juxtaposition in the mood. I felt more as if I was skimming; it started to go in circles and I was ready for it to be over. When they discovered the real reason at the end I felt as if I didn’t care anymore. I’m glad the characters found it for closure, because again I did care about them thanks to John Green’s excellent character building, but the only person I felt sorry for the whole time was the deceased, because of their life and the fact that they were dead while everyone else was still alive.

If anything it taught me to be happy for every moment I have and what great circumstances I have had the luxury of growing up in. I will admit that I am a very horrible person when it comes to dealing with death. So I feel anyone with a soul would appreciate the second half of the book. I just don’t have one, so take it for what you will. My favorite part was the final prank/tribute because she was there, in every aspect. I applaud the think-tank that is John Green that thought that one up. I cried because I was laughing so hard and cried because it was sad. The funniest part was also the saddest for me, and I think that in itself takes a great writer to pull off. I wish he would’ve ended it with that, with some comment about it being her last words, but I’m not the author.

Above all this book makes you think. Which is the most important thing we as a society need to do. That, and read more books, with the passion of Alaska Young.

So there you have it. I  am hoping to convince Sara to read and write more reviews so the blog has thoughts other than mine. I also would be open to having someone else have a guest review if they wanted.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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