Sunday, 19 March 2017

Reviews of Alaska: A Review of Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska was the debut novel by John Green. Since then, he's done a few other books for young adults. It follows a teenage called Miles "Pudge" Halter, as he moves away for boarding school in Alabama. While there, he meets several people, including the titular Alaska. Alaska is beautiful, interesting and dangerous. The book is sectioned into days before and after. When you first read, you are going to be thinking to yourself "before what?" It's a fun way to get the reader hooked early. Genre savvy readers may figure out what's going to happen, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable to read.

John Green's talent for characters is less pronounced here - the only one who really stands out is Alaska. For the others, he gives them each One Small Quirk - Pudge knows famous last words, the Colonel is good at pranks, Takumi can rap. Between what we learn about her through the eyes of Pudge, who is infatuated with her, Alaska gets the most character development of anyone in the book. In Paper Towns, everyone comes out of their journey having developed a bit as a character. The Colonel is probably the second-most interesting character, being very clever from a poor family and not always feeling like he fits in. However, none of them really develop so much over the course of the book.

Alaska is often described outside of the novel as a manic pixie dream girl. While she does fit some of the traits - she pulls Miles into her world and makes his life better for a time - she certainly doesn't set out to improve his life. To quote from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - "Too many guys think I'm a concept or I complete them or I'm going to make them alive, but I'm just a fucked up girl who is looking for my own peace of mind."

It actually manages the impossible - a sex scene I don't mind? I think this is because it is as realistically awkward as first-time sex between two teenagers is likely to be. It serves to develop the personalities of the characters and their relationship.

It also has one of John Green's best quotes - "If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane." Which is fitting, since Pudge can quote a lot of people's last words. While most of his books have their good quotes - "My thoughts are stars I can't fathom into constellations," or "Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventureShe was not a fine and precious thingShe was a girl," the drizzle and hurricane quote has stuck in my mind since I read it.

I feel like I've spent most of this review comparing Looking for Alaska to John Green's other books, but I will mention it definitely stands out on its own merits. I can't think of a specific sort of person who might enjoy this book, but it's one that everyone who enjoys Young Adult should enjoy.

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