Looking for Alaska by John Green
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
There are books that help me exercise my mind in imagining some things, feeling some emotions and living in the dreams. This is supposed to be an example of one but its letters simply passed my eyes.
Looking for Alaska is the first YA novel ever crafted by John Green way back in 2005, and won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award for this book exemplified excellence in this genre. An American author from Indiana, he loves writing as well as loves video blogging.
Considering his first creation to bring home the top award, this is, on an average point of view, recommended to readers of YA kind as a good read. I for one who doesn’t like high-school-on-paper-too-much and doesn’t feel the teenage-form-of-catharsis, considered this a challenge to continuously, and not drop the book for 24 hours.
It's just… the words did not hit me as much.
I read Paper Towns first since the mood of the story is a mixture of comic relief and utter loneliness – a good combination for someone like me who doesn’t know the author well. The message of the author to see metamorphosis and the science of change in a positive light guaranteed that I, as a reader, felt compelled to see the book and imagine through the pages. It made me see and understand the misunderstood and its stand. And for the comic relief, I find myself laughing out loud imagining a character pissing all of his drunkenness from last night in a beer can – imagine?! A BEER CAN. An adult may have done that, but not of the same sillyness as of a teenager. Such joy to laugh and imagine you are with them, traveling in a minivan, eating junk food and trash talk.
But to stick my nose in yet again, another John Green (after reading a series of serious animal conversations from Beatrice and Virgil), is not a good exercise for a nonfanatic of YA fiction. I saw the weaknesses – in the plot, in the imprint and in the catharsis. Let me expound in my own little way:
Looking for Alaska is about a guy named Miles “Pudge” Halter moving from their neighborhood in Florida to the Culver Creek Prep (duh, a boarding school) in Alabama, aiming for a good college after a year or two. His parents threw him a disappointing despedida party, where Miles being an antisocial, have no friends attending to such. So there, the author further immerse the protagonist in the life of a prep student, befriending the Colonel (Chip Martin) and a half-blood named Takumi Hikohito (half Japanese, half Birmingham in the US), antagonizing the Eagle (Mr. Starnes), learning to make love with a Romanian (Lara Buterskaya), and instantly love Alaska Young. Befriending the Colonel gave him a new name: Pudge, the guy with the chicken legs and geekiness, all together nice.
An American author from Indiana, he patterned his Boarding School (Indiana Springs School) in his adolescent years as a reference to the setting of the story. Some may find this intriguing, but I am the otherwise. I am sick and tired of hearing the type of classes they have and the luxury / nonluxury of attending one. In addition, they have the “Weekday Warriors” as their number one enemy, and these are the privileged Birmingham-area students. To rationalize, this is the picturesque description of school bullying, the hindsight is that the author makes it a point that this happens in a boarding school. Lest it be known that bullying is anywhere – in any school, be it a public (like PS 118) and in a private (Donovan Preparatory Academy). This is a weakness.
An antisocial persona is a pity. The character, while kept on saying he/she used to be that way (an unfriendly as he/she was) and realize that he/she needs someone to hold on to, is too cliché. Or simply immature. I am not up to the person who is weak or with issues such as this. A person tends to be competitive or otherwise because he/she chose to be one, not to get some appeal. This is a weakness.
His recipe for disaster: having the same recipe with his Paper Towns. It would be much better if it has a different perspective, but maybe because Paper Towns is the second book and thus, the copycat. It just so happen that I read that first.
The geek – the first person; the struggle (seeking a Great Perhaps), the habit (interest for the last words)
The girl – destructive yet mysterious, eyes of color (make it green, hazel, brown, blue, whatever) with wholeness and emptiness at the same time
The set of friends – intelligent and cool in their own way
The car – in itself – whatever form – THERE IS ALWAYS A CAR! :p
The school – the corridors, the “pa-deep” class, the conversations with the professors
Seeking a Great Perhaps: Pudge’s driver in the beginning of the story. Too teen.
Labyrinth of Suffering: Alaska’s driver. Too destructive, yes, I would have loved that, but the way of the delivery of the message – to shallow.
POOF~! Did it became a coco crunch? Yeah, it did, just like Margo did.
My two cents
I am not antagonizing everything. After all,  I am a critic in my own right (for I am not really interested in YA fiction) and  I am not a die-hard John Green fan. And I hate this kind of enumeration. If you want to enumerate, do it as line items, like the accountant does the financial accounts in a balance sheet.
Overall, it will appeal to my younger versions of me. Just that.
View all my reviews