Sunday, June 6, 2010

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska

John Green

SUMMARY: Miles begins his junior year at Culver Creek hoping that the new school will simultaneously be an escape from his safe life in Florida and his entrance into the mysterious ‘Great Perhaps.’ For the first time, Miles has friends and a real sense of belonging. But it is his intense friendship with the volatile and enigmatic Alaska Young that will change Miles most permanently and catapult him into the frightening world of adulthood.

ONESMARTCUPCAKE THINKS: I was first introduced to John Green a few years ago through his second book, An Abundance of Katherines, which I absolutely loved. So now I’m finally getting a chance to catch up of the rest of this fabulous author’s small but potent collection before he publishes another work of brilliance! My high expectations of this novel, Green’s debut, were not disappointed in the least.

Miles is an excellent protagonist, hitting all the right notes of wit, vulnerability, quirkiness, and humor. His narration ranges from sarcastic to poignant to classic teenage crassness. For me, it was both fun and nostalgic to follow Miles as he adapted to his new life at Culver Creek, joined the pranking and adventuring world of his new friends, and contemplated the large questions of life in his spare time.

The novel is divided into ‘before’ and ‘after’ an event that remains unidentified until its actual occurrence; the mystery maintains an underlying tension throughout the earlier portion of the story and this tension comes to a shocking conclusion three quarters of the way through the novel. Simultaneously, this book shows the particular quirky sense of humor that I so enjoyed in An Abundance of Katherines. This quality appears in variety of unique details: Miles’s obsession with famous people’s last words, the bizarre nicknames, and the ingeniously complex pranks.

But most potently, Looking for Alaska honestly attempts to express and illustrate the raw pain and confusion of grief. Miles’ individual and shared struggles to make sense of death are incredibly touching and realistic in its combination of guilt, anger, frustration, and numbness. This novel beautifully deals with such a somber topic while producing a satisfying and even uplifting conclusion. When Looking for Alaska was published about 5 years ago, it gained a slew of honors and recognitions, including the 2006 Printz Award, and it deserves all of them.

4 1/2 / 5 STARS

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