Looking for Alaska by John Green

Greatness: 5/5 stars

Summary:

Miles Halter, 16, decides to attend Culver Creek Boarding School in attempt to find the “Great Perhaps” just like the French renaissance writer, François Rabelais. His life turns around once he steps foot on Culver Creek territory. It spirals into something new, different, and one long roller coaster ride. There he meets the Colonel, Takumi, Lara, and the amazing Alaska Young. The gang, especially Alaska, transform the old Miles, an awkward lean teen, into Pudge, someone confident and defiant. He goes through many firsts in his first year at Culver Creek, such as drinking, pranking, lusting, and smoking. Much vulgar language is used throughout the novel, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Review:

John Green’s debut novel, Looking for Alaska, a Printz Award Winner, has beautifully intervened common teen struggles with literary excellence. The story is split into two parts: a before and after, one counting down days and the other counting up days. Green does not reveal why he is counting down the days until Day 1, the turning point of the novel, keeping the reader driven and adding suspense to the novel.

At the turning point of the novel, the last day of the before part of the novel, everything changes. Things go wrong. Everything changes just as it seems to get better. The mood of the novel is suddenly switched. It suddenly becomes deeper. Religious beliefs like Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism tie the novel together, help Pudge (Miles) discover and overcome obstacles, and most of all question the reader. What is the meaning of life?

This question is left unanswered. It is open ended.

Intriguing quotes from works of literature and famous last words blend in smoothly with the plot while revealing the underlying meaning of it all through the actions and dialogue between the characters. We are guided out the labyrinth of our thoughts and Pudge is guided towards his Great Perhaps.

The overall message and novel itself unfolds something magnificent and eye opening. Vivid characters and realistic teen struggles are captured in the beautifully written novel. It is definitely worth the read.

During high school, teens question who they are, who they want to be, and where they stand in life. Pudge and his friends are crafted to represent the millions of teens who go through this cycle of realization.

This coming-of-age novel is a must read for those who are confused and/or curious because Green develops a strong and authentic voice for teens.

July 3, 2009 at 9:53 pm Leave a comment

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