Looking for Alaska

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Genre: Realistic Contemporary
Publication Date: December 28th 2006
Publisher: Speak
Pages: 221
My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

“If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions. But we can’t know better until knowing better is useless.”

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy 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. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . . After. Nothing is ever the same. – Excerpt from Goodreads.

I’m still not really sure how I feel about this book, two weeks later. It’s hard being so indecisive about things like John Green books. After a few weeks of thinking about this story, I knocked it down from three stars to two. I just really didn’t like this one.

Looking for Alaska is a book about a young man, who’s nickname is Pudge, going to boarding school and meeting a cast of various characters who change him forever. Pudge is an intelligent, somewhat awkward guy, kind of relatable I suppose. Most people likely know or have known someone like him in their life so he made a good narrator for this novel. John Green is obviously a talented writer but his style just wasn’t for me. I found a lot of the characters to be forgettable and one-dimensionable. I really did want to love this book. Sadly, I don’t have a ton of positive comments on this one.

Did this book really only deserve a two star review, lots of people adore this novel. I tried to convince myself that I liked it while I was reading it but I really pushed through this one. I didn’t connect enough with the characters at all. I hate that Alaska was written as a special, unique little snowflake that all the men couldn’t help but instantly fall in love (lust) with. I didn’t buy that every man would be drawn to someone so troubled like Alaska clearly was. It didn’t work for me at all. It really bothered me that Alaska was obviously very sick from her mental illness and the people who supposedly loved her didn’t try very hard to get her help. I know the “decision” she ultimately makes can’t be blamed on others but you would think they would’ve tried to get her help just a little more. They seemed more interested in sleeping with her than anything. I don’t think I liked any of the characters at the end of the day. I can totally relate to a flawed character, but this didn’t come off as authentically flawed.

I didn’t realize that this book had been banned so many times and has been challenged even more. Completely ridiculous, in my opinion. Yes, there was a sexual scene in this novel. I actually thought the scene was fairly well-done and that lots of people probably cringe at the scene because they relate to it. The book wasn’t glamorizing sex between 13 year olds – these were older teens and inexperienced ones at that. The reason the book has been banned is when Pudge and another girl decide to take their relationship to the next level and have oral sex. Only problem is that they don’t have a clue how to go about doing it. Reading about those characters trying to figure out what to do was awkward and you could feel the embarrassment. This part of the book is not a major part of the story and it’s not in graphic detail. There was also quite a bit of language in the book but I find that we are seeing that more in more in the YA field. Again, nothing particularly offensive but it is there if that bothers you.

Although I personally wouldn’t recommend this book, I think it’s one you should read and decide for yourself. Lots of people swear by this novel and I believe it’s going to be a film in the future. I haven’t given up on John Green though, I will certainly try at least another book or two in the future to decide what I think of his writing overall.

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