Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Seasonal Reading Challenge: Task 10.2 – Ring, Sing, Bling? – Some ancient wonders such as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon end with the letters “ing,” and that ending also is common during the holiday season – bells “ring,” people “sing” carols. Read a book with a word in the title/subtitle ending in “ing.”
Blurb: 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.
Review: It’s funny, but I thought that I had already reviewed this book, but then as I was cleaning up some things around the blog, I realized that I hadn’t. And since I end up reading it at least once a year, I figured I ought to officially review this thing!
Y’all know how much I love John Green. I have ever since I first started watching VlogBrothers on YouTube. This was his first published book and, to be honest, I feel like it completely encapsulates what it’s like to be a teenager, more so than most of the YA books I have read. This book is often taught in schools, which means it’s also challenged and banned quite often as well. Because parents don’t think that their precious children can handle this.
It’s hard to review this without giving away the ending, and doing that would ruin the experience of reading this book. I’ll start by listing things that people complain about it. Lots of folks dismiss Alaska Young as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Actually, to be fair, they complain that Green uses this trope often in his books, which is a fair point. An Abundance of Katherines has Lindsey Lee Wells. Paper Towns has Margo Roth Spiegleman. The Fault in Our Stars sort of has a Manic Pixie Dream Guy with Augustus Waters, although that one is a bit different. So yeah, clearly John Green enjoys using this as a plot device, but the thing is, he’s very good at it. And also, I think his characters have more depth than a typical MPDG usually does. They don’t just exist to help the main characters find themselves. They have their own needs and desires.
All that aside, Alaska is a fun character that you can’t help but like even though she is a whole heap of trouble. Actually, all of the characters in this one are great, from Miles’s roommate Chip (a.k.a “The Colonel” – he’s the leader of the group), Takumi (who enjoys wearing a fox hat when they go on their adventures), and Lara (a shy Romanian girl who is Miles’s first girlfriend).
The book also has fun with the boarding school setting and, let’s be honest, how many of us had a fantasy about going away to boarding school when we were kids? I know I did. There’s a reason why it’s so popular (seriously, I could name a dozen children’s or YA books set in a boarding school right off the top of my head).
To sum up, this book is really good. It makes me laugh and it makes me cry every time I read it. GoodReads rating: 5 stars