Wow! I just really love John Green. I read and reviewed Paper Towns a few weeks ago and I just didn’t think anything could top my love for that book…but this one did! I wholeheartedly, from the bottom of my soul, loved this book. I wanted to hug it, implant it in my brain for forever, prance around in sunflower fields with it, etc. etc. But seriously, this is one of those books that I can feel in my soul and so many things about it resonate with my own teenage experience and my life 7-8 years out from my teenage life.
Looking For Alaska was so hard to put down, not only because of the characters and the humor, but because of the unique structure. Each start to a chapter or a section is a timeline counting down to some unknown event that we are just waiting to happen. You know it has to be earth-shattering or something and that anticipation doesn’t wear at all as we get to know the characters and the setting of their boarding school. The “after” just rendered me a lifeless little rag doll.
I really enjoyed the characters in this one– such a fun group of friends that seemed real — they didn’t always treat each other right but they had each other’s back. They all had their flaws – real flaws..not things that just are made to seem like some flaws but then are all cleared up by the end of the novel. While I think Alaska could be really selfish and impulsive, I really understood her quite a bit. I identified so much with her on so many levels (although I’m not at all that quirky and eclectic) and found myself a deeper connection with this character that I typically come across in YA. I feel as though if you ask some of my high school and college boyfriends, they’d find some similarities in Alaska and I. It’s funny how I connected so much more with her than with the Pudge. I did like him though.
My only gripe? Sometimes I felt like the dialogue was a little too contrived. I didn’t really know anyone who talked like that in high school. I think we all wanted to believe we sounded that mature and poignant but we never did. I mean, I had some pretty “deep” conversations but in my dreams could I spout witty, intelligent things all the time. I think it’s like the same way that I always wanted to emulate the witty banter of Gilmore Girls. I totally imagine that I sound that way. But nonetheless, I loved this book but I just thought that should be noted because it crossed my mind a few times. That aside, I really appreciate that John Green knows and appreciates the fact that teens DO think about the bigger pictures and really do want to seek understanding. Teens can HANDLE the stuff he presents and he treats them as competent individuals who can handle the message and the deeper thought in his books.
My final thought: It’s hard to really put all the raw feelings and emotions that this book unearthed from within me. I know that sounds dramatic but it was one of THOSE kind of experiences for me. John Green does it again with memorable characters whom I swear have a real & audible heartbeat, the kind of thought-provoking life questions that keep me up at night and the kind of humor that makes me giggle. Oh and did I mention that I cried a lot at different points but especially when I realized what the answer was to their little “investigation” before they did. I understood that all too well.
Warnings: It IS a more mature YA read — drugs, sex talk, cursing. Just so you know. If that sort of stuff bothers you or if you are of a very young age, you might want to skip this one for now.