Book Review: Looking For Alaska – John Green

If I had to summarise this book in a few words, I’d describe it like this – last words, first relationships, crushes, alcohol, sex, cigarettes, pranking, tragedy & love. So, if this isn’t enough to take your fancy, I don’t know what is!

Looking For Alaska is the story of Miles’ first year at Culver Creek boarding school. He leaves his friendless “minor-life” in Florida behind, away from his old life and parents. In search of his Great Perhaps (Francois Rabelais’s last words,) he believed he could find what he was looking for at the boarding school his Father had formerly attended. Finding a first ever friend in his roommate, Chip – The Colonel, teaches him all he needs to know about the campus. Miles is lucky to be accepted by The Colonel so quickly, who took no time to give him his nickname, Pudge, which is completely based on irony as Miles is so skinny. The Colonel also introduces Miles to his best friend, Alaska Young, an intelligent and impulsive girl who was taken, not single, out of bounds and yet so desirable.

“In the dark beside me, she smelled of sweat and sunshine and vanilla, and on that thin-mooned night I could see little more than her silhouette, but even in the dark, I could see her eyes – fierce emeralds.”  Despite Alaska’s prominent relationship status, Pudge took little time crushing on her and eventually, falling head first. Her room smelt of “wet dirt and grass and cigarette smoke” and was full of ceiling-high stacks of books, mostly unread, and was known as Alaska’s Life’s Library – a collection she aspired to read before her death. And, on Pudge’s first night, she told him the story of the Labyrinth and Simón Bolívar – The Labyrinth that Alaska seemed to be forever lost in, trying to find a way out. Straight and Fast.

Tragedy strikes and nothing is the same as “before.” But, if I told you what happens, there wouldn’t be much point in reading this book, and I desperately urge that you do! Accounts of boarding school pranks and youthful activities of rebellion make this book a warm read; bringing smiles to the face of the reader, while at the same time addressing deeper, darker and ultimately depressing themes.

Alaska Young is a deeply disturbed girl, and through the eyes of Pudge, is made out to be a compelling character. She represents that darker side to everyone’s mind, the shadow that everyone has trailing behind them and the last shred of hope left for an inevitable future. From reading John Green’s first, young adults novel, I will not hesitate to purchase more of his work. If everyone could live the school life that Pudge did, there would be a lot of train-wrecked people in the world, but is a train-wreck a complete disaster or a beautiful occurrence?

Rating 8/10

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