Saturday, April 24, 2010

Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green


Sixteen-year-old Miles Halter's adolescence has been one long nonevent - no challenge, no girls, no mischief, and no real friends. Seeking what Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps," he leaves Florida for a boarding school in Birmingham, AL. His roommate, Chip, is a dirt-poor genius scholarship student with a Napoleon complex who lives to one-up the school's rich preppies. Chip's best friend is Alaska Young, with whom Miles and every other male in her orbit falls instantly in love. She is literate, articulate, and beautiful, and she exhibits a reckless combination of adventurous and self-destructive behavior. She and Chip teach Miles to drink, smoke, and plot elaborate pranks. Alaska's story unfolds in all-night bull sessions, and the depth of her unhappiness becomes obvious.

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Plot: 5/5
Set in a boarding school in central Alabama, the story focuses on the life of Miles as he lives his days trying to find something more meaningful in life, all the while pining for his complicated, moody friend Alaska. Finding himself in an unlikely group of friends, he experiences things he never thought he would, like drunken nights and pulling pranks right under the principal's nose. As Miles constantly embarks on new adventures, the reader's kept entertained and is even introduced to a few surprises towards the end.

Creativity: 4/5
Instead of being narrated by a girl (like the books I usually read), the story is told by a teenage boy one might consider "invisible." It's a coming-of-age story, but it brings something new to the table when you factor in an unattainable girl and the crazy boarding-school adventures. Looking for Alaska is reminiscent of Perks of Being a Wallflower, but a little wilder.

Characters: 5/5
For people who are supposed to be average, nerdy teenagers, Miles and his friends are surprisingly quirky and interesting. All of them strive to be identified separately from the popular crowd in their school, and are fiercely individualistic. They always spice things up, which is a pleasant deviation from the boring backdrop of their middle-of-nowhere boarding school. They each have inner dreams and turmoils, too, which the they uncover as the plot thickens. Lastly, they're all so clever. In a way they can be naive, but all of them have such interesting views on life that constantly get the reader thinking.

Writing: 5/5
If there's anything I can say about his writing, it's that John Green writes excellent prose. In fact, excellent doesn't even do it justice. He has a way with words that just pulls pulls readers in. The paragraphs are so rich, the imagery is so crisp, the feelings are so well-translated... the excellence of the writing cannot even be described. A reader must experience it to know how amazing of an author John Green is.

Impact: 5/5
The story has a way of gripping the readers' hearts. The characters and their drama, the questions on the meaning of life, the tragedy, the winning writing- they all make up one amazing novel that could change the way the reader sees the world.

Overall: 5/5
I really, really, REALLY enjoyed this book. I've been wanting to read it for a while now, and now that I have, I can understand why a lot of people recommend reading it. It taught me a lot, which is not something that happens often, and it was truly of substance. The loyalty of the main characters to each other was touching, and I really liked how they matured yet still had a lot of shortcomings. Sure, it wasn't the happiest ending, but it made it all the more realistic. One of the greatest pieces of young adult literature I've ever read, this book has the power to change lives.

1 comment:

  1. I love how you write your reviews! I'm really glad you enjoyed it so much. I'm actually in the middle of reading this one! Amazing review :D

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