Due to popular vote (thanks for voting on the reviews, my fantastic blogglings), I’ll be doing an Alaskan review.
Spoiler: There will be no snow or dogs in this post. I’m sorry.
Miles has a quirky interest in famous people’s last words, especially François Rabelais’s final statement, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” Determined not to wait for death to begin a similar quest, Miles convinces his parents to let him leave home. Once settled at Culver Creek Preparatory School, he befriends a couple of equally gifted outcasts: his roommate Chip―commonly known as the Colonel—who has a predilection for memorizing long, alphabetical lists for fun; and the beautiful and unpredictable Alaska, whom Miles comes to adore.
The kids grow closer as they make their way through a school year filled with contraband, tests, pranks, breakups, and revelations about family and life. But as the story hurtles toward its shattering climax, chapter headings like “forty-six days before” and “the last day” portend a tragic event―one that will change Miles forever and lead him to new conclusions about the value of his cherished “Great Perhaps.
After eyeballing me from my massive to-read stack for 2 weeks, I picked up LOOKING FOR ALASKA on an afternoon I could read obsessively. Least to say, I used a bookmark once. (ONCE, people, just once, and I’m simultaneously disturbed and proud.)
I give this book 4-stars, when it should be 5-stars but deserves 3-stars. (That is the most brilliant sentence ever. You may admire it.) To get a 5-star from me, the book needs to have real and fantastic characters (check), fabulous plot (semi-check), humour and witty banter (check), and rip out my heart at some point (double-check). LOOKING FOR ALASKA did all of these, but when I reached the end, I felt sadly cheated. To explain, I must use a spoiler. It’s the nerdy teen version of BRIDGE TO TEREBTHIA. Complete with similar plot and questions. I don’t like it when authors redo something that was done impeccably well the first time.
With the bells and whistles of a boarding-school-that-looked-like-a-summer-camp, the book was full of shenanigans, pranks, and highschool drama. I have no idea how people think up pranks like that. Is it talent or insanity? Either way, it’s very interesting to read. Speaking of reading, the writing is typically John Green – flowing, rich, and deep. That’s probably the biggest reason I like John Green’s books: he assumes his audience are highly intelligent teens and he proceeds to write to them accordingly. Can I just say, THANK YOU. There is no spelling-it-out-slowly-and-clearly in the story. There are no one-dimensional characters. Sure there are cheesy aspects and cliché mistakes in the book, but it’s delivered like it’s about real human beans and we (the readers) are also real human beans. (Yes, I did say “beans”, because Roald Dahl’s THE BFG uses the term “human beans” and I’ve used it since.)
The characters are intelligent! (Yessss.) And realistic (I believe I mentioned that). That’s the perfect combination for me. Humour flowed and I was done for. Miles (or “Pudge” as they call him, because he’s so skinny – I appreciate that kind of humour, by the way) was a fantastic narrator. As he described himself: his friends (the Colonel and Alaska) were comets and he was the tail. He wasn’t particularly shy, just awkward and social lacking. His dialogue was somewhat lacking, but I didn’t mind. I really, really enjoyed his character – he’s relatable, intelligent, and screwed up like everyone else. He also memorizes last lines. That is slightly morbid and weird, but I’ll forgive him because it’s also interesting. (John Green writes in the acknowledgements at the back that he too had a fascination for Last Words when he was a kid.)
Of course, the book is dramatic, devastating and crushing-my-soul-like-a-grape (yes, I quoted TANGLED. You’re welcome). I should have SEEN the ending coming, but I took it like a codfish out of water and now I’m not sure if I should lie on my bed and stare at nothing or Google the famous Last Lines of people or contemplate how horribly wonderful it must be to THINK of all this stuff all at once and write a book about it. Make no mistakes, this is a seriously good book and now I have a book hangover.
Just let me point out that the last word in this story is: beautiful.
Cait has read two of John Green’s books and yes, it’s true. She’s hooked. Pistachios all round! Currently, she is plotting ways to convince her family that they should go to the beach. Every week. (Because every day isn’t going to happen.) Failing that, she’d like to see Paris. Right now she’s having an X-Men marathon. She’s reading EDEN by Keary Taylor.