Book Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green (4/5). “He just John-Greened me!”

4 Sep

I’m not sure if anything I say here hasn’t been said before. And I can’t promise there will be no spoilers, because I think it will be impossible to talk about this book without giving away the big reveal. Sorry. So I guess, spoilers? A lot of them?

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Miles Halter doesn’t fit in at his Florida High School and he can’t help thinking there’s something bigger out there waiting for him. So he decides to move to Alabama and attend the boarding school his father went to. There he befriends his roommate, The Colonel, the beautiful Alaska Young, Takumi, and Lara. Together they try to out-prank the ‘Weekend Warriors,’ (rich kids from Birmingham).

But that’s all before.

[Where the spoilers begin]

After, they will never be the same. Alaska dies suddenly in a car accident and Miles and the Colonel feel responsible. But there are so many questions. Where was she going? Why did she think she needed to leave so suddenly in the middle of the night when she was too drunk to drive? Did she crash on purpose? What were her last words?

So many feelings! I laughed, felt uncomfortable listening to it with someone in the car, got angry, wanted to cry but couldn’t while driving, sympathized, smiled, and everything in between. I was scheming how to get back at the Warriors and later was trying to figure out the mystery of Alaska’s death right along with Miles and the Colonel. I was sucked in. Ultimately, I think the mystery was a little too much and didn’t fit as well with the first half of the story, which was my favorite. That’s the only reason I didn’t give it a full 5/5.

John Green must have a time machine in his house where he can return to his teen years and take notes on what it was like to be a teenager again. Even as a young 20-something, I still struggle to write a teen mind. But when I pick up Green, I’m brought right back to high school and wanting to fit in while wanting to be myself. I don’t know how he does it, but it’s amazing.

The Colonel was my favorite character. I liked that he hid his intelligence but didn’t deny it and I adored his love for his mother. I was sad that he felt any shame, but with the rich Birmingham kids around, it make sense. I adored how loyal he was to his friends and that he had a very snarky side to him. Was there anything not to love?

I sympathized with Lara the most. She was always a little on the outside, even with her friends, and I felt that a bit in high school. Even with my friends, I wasn’t ‘in’ like others were. She was such a big person to forgive Miles like she did and I loved her even more for that.

Image via mental_floss

John Green
Image via mental_floss

As if it needed to be said, my favorite part was the stripper at the end. If you read this book and didn’t love that, we should talk. It was such a perfect prank and it was a great tribute to Alaska. Reading John Green’s website, it seems that it was based slightly off of a prank performed at his boarding school.

I thought the book dragged a bit at the end. I understood wanting to know what why and how, but I think it could have been trimmed a bit. The build up to the event was so great, starting from the first words, telling us it was ‘before’ and at some point, it would be ‘after.’ And ‘before’ seemed to race along like a white water river while after trudged like a (beautiful albeit) slow elephant. I wish it had been more even.

I struggled thinking of themes. Friendship? Yes, but also being yourself and when it’s okay to give somethings up and what to stay strong on. In the end, I Googled it to help guide my discussion. And I almost smacked myself because the theme I should talk about now seems so obvious; death and suffering.

Alaska died, but she didn’t suffer from it. Miles lived, but he suffers not knowing why his friend died. Throughout the book, the characters are dealing with suffering in one way or another; being unhappy in a relationship, wanting to start over, dealing with guilt, adjusting to a new place, being punished, being pranked, etc. Anything that could bring them down did and they suffered. But when they were faced with the ultimate suffering, death, they had to react in a different way. They couldn’t get even with this suffering, or run away from it or shrug it off; it had to be faced head on; straight and fast. As Alaska said, that’s the only way out of the labyrinth.

Writer’s Takeaway: John Green captures our hearts because of his characters. If you have another thing you love about him, fine, but I bet his characters is high on that list. They are so deep; they have personalities, quirks, dislikes, hobbies, etc. They’re like the people we know from high school and are each so unique and different that it’s mind-blowing. I always strive to make my characters as deep as Green does.

Overall, a wonderful, solid book. Four out of Five stars.

This book fulfills ‘Alabama’ for my Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

Reminder! If you want to join in my next Read Along event, check out this post for details and send me an email to sign up!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Book Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green (SPOILERS) | Too Many Posts
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Looking for Alaska by John Green (Review) | YABOOKERS
BOOK REVIEW: Looking for Alaska by John Green | Saz and Stuff

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4 Responses to “Book Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green (4/5). “He just John-Greened me!””

  1. Amy Sachs September 4, 2014 at 7:16 PM #

    Looking For Alaska was the first John Green book I ever read and I loved it so much! I recently re-read it and still loved it as much as the first time, I’m glad you did too !

    Like

    • Sam September 4, 2014 at 8:17 PM #

      I just adore his characters. In interviews he admits to basing them on friends and I think it brings so much to them!

      Like

  2. Alex J. Hughes September 6, 2014 at 7:40 PM #

    Great review! You’re exactly right about the characters. I also agree about the Colonel, his modesty made him easy to like. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Like

    • Sam September 6, 2014 at 7:42 PM #

      I’m glad you liked it! I want a friend like the Colonel because I felt he was the most trustworthy and that’s the kind of friend I want.

      Liked by 1 person

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