Friday, April 03, 2009
REVIEW: Looking For Alaska by John Green (plus my first giveaway)
“But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”
Looking For Alaska is a wonderful read. Honestly, I'd like to go back and read it again even though it's been a week since I finished it. It's one of those books. It started off a bit slow, but then it got to a certain point in the book and I thought 'even though not much is happening, I love these characters and the relationships that they have with each other' and realised that I wouldn't put this book down before finishing it for anything. I thought that John Green is clearly still in touch with how a teenage boy acts, feels and thinks. About sex and friends, loneliness, loyalty, love, life.
It's the story of Miles who apart from memorising the last words of famous people, leads a boring, friendless life in Florida, so he convinces his parents to send him to a boarding school in Alabama in order for Miles to seek the 'Great Perhaps.'
Once there, his roommate ironically nicknames him 'Pudge' and he falls into a set of friends. His roommate and about-to-be-best-friend, 'The Colonel,' the troubled, intelligent, beautiful and sassy Alaska Young, Takumi, Lara. From them he learns about friendship, love, loss, grief.
I adored Miles as a character and the insights into his brain was a highlight for me in reading this book. Also the dialogue between Pudge and The Colonel is quite fun as well as believeable. My favourite parts was all the information about the famous last words, I think it was a great quirk. Thankfully John Green puts in an afterword and discusses it in a little more detail. I'm intrigued.
The story is split into two parts, Before and After. The first half begins a little slowly with all of the introductions. The move to school, the mischief that Pudge and his friends get into with the smoking, the drinking and the pranks they pull. Pudge finds himself drawn to Alaska (as do most of the characters) and her impulsiveness, but she's moody and unpredictable.
Some may find the drinking and the references to sex a little much, but I didn't. Everything seemed really authentic. I've never been to Alabama, I've never been to boarding school, but I found myself relating to all of these characters and the experiences that they go through.
I don't want to spoil the major event that 'Before' leads up to. I'll just say that 'After' deals with some tougher issues. Forgiveness, understanding. Identity and belief systems. Friendship.
This is definately one to read. I've been thinking lately that my life is horribly boring. That nothing new happens, so I've decided to go in search for the 'Great Perhaps' in my own way. That is, Doing Something Different. I love that I'm still inspired by books, by the reading that I'm able to do. I want to pass that on.
I've come across so many wonderful (better) reviews of Looking For Alaska that I feel like a lot of you have already read this book (well done to you!) but if you haven't, and you live in the UK, then here is your chance. I'm giving away my gently used copy of this book. Just leave me a comment with an email address between now and the 10th of April. If there's more than one person interested (please god, let there be more than one person interested), I'll use random.org to pick a winner.
Sorry for all of you non-UK readers, I'll have an international giveaway another time, promise.