Looking for Alaska by John Green
Reviewed by: Baby Sister Brittany
The Sisters say: Hilarious. Heart-breaking. Human.
Check out our giveaway of this book here!
Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.
Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green's arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.
I loved every moment of this book, every second of every moment. Every millisecond within those seconds—I was in love.
John Green has such a way with words that I know I will read every book he ever writes from now until the end of time. He could write a book that sounds strange and/or boring and/or like the worst book ever, and I would still read it because I have faith that it will still somehow manage to be brilliant.
I don’t know about you guys, but when I look back on my life, I remember it according to the people I knew, the places I’ve been, the things I’ve done, and the books I’ve read. Looking for Alaska is one of the books that left such a profound effect on me that I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I read it. (In case you’re wondering, I was working backstage during a production of Romeo and Juliet. I was crying in my little chair backstage, and Romeo was crying onstage because he’d just entered the tomb and found Juliet.)
Green creates characters that are at once realistic and simultaneously larger than life. Miles is that guy that sat behind you in class, a little quiet, a little random, but kind of fascinating. I absolutely loved his obsession with last words, and went on my own “last words” obsessive streak after I finished the book.
Alaska is a fascinating character because we see her through the eyes of Miles, who is in love with her. He thinks the world of her, but as the book progresses, we can start to see the cracks in her exterior. We can see the normalness, the humanness, the brokenness slipping through the mask of cleverness and mystique that she has so carefully woven.
The book is also populated with tons more fun secondary like my personal favorite—the Colonel.
Miles, Alaska, the Colonel, and their friends get into all kinds of mischief—some of it the standard kind of high school happenings and other things like their pranks are hilarious and awesome and pretty much made of win.
I can’t talk about this book without giving you some of my favorite quotes. Like I said before, Green has a way with words. And sometimes, when I’m frustrated with my own writing or I’m in a reading slump, I’ll go back to his book and revisit some of these quotes, because they renew my faith in YA literature.
“‘It's not because I want to make out with her.’
‘Hold on.’ He grabbed a pencil and scrawled excitedly at the paper as if he'd just made a mathematical breakthrough and then looked back up at me.
‘I just did some calculations, and I've been able to determine that you're full of sh*t’”
“We were kissing.
I thought: This is good.
I thought: I am not bad at this kissing. Not bad at all.
I thought: I am clearly the greatest kisser in the history of the universe.
Suddenly she laughed and pulled away from me. She wiggled a hand out of her sleeping bag and wiped her face. "You slobbered on my nose," she said, and laughed”
“What is an "instant" death anyway? How long is an instant? Is it one second? Ten? … Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.”
“When adults say, "Teenagers think they are invincible" with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don't know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.”
“Francois Rabelais. He was a poet. And his last words were "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." That's why I'm going. So I don't have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.”
I’m struggling to put into words just how great this book is, so I hope letting John Green’s words do the talking has convinced you.
If not, I end with this:
This book will make you laugh, and it will make you cry. It will make you fall in love, then break your heart, and then piece it back together again. It will make you want to change yourself and change the world. You can't ask for much more than that in a book!