Looking for Alaska
by John Green
Published March 2005
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.
Photo and summary from Goodreads.com
Once upon a time I read this book in high school. It was about this boy who had this love for learning people’s last words– presidents, authors, generals- you name it. After I read that I thought it was the coolest thing ever, and decided I would do the same thing. I checked out one of those “Famous Last Words!” books and set myself up to read all those famous last words.
Well, that only lasted like 2 days.
Still, it’s been stuck in the back of my head– what a cool idea for a character!
Well, 5 or 6 odd years later is just so happens I’ve discovered I LOVE JOHN GREEN. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Looking For Alaska so I finally ended up picking it up… and IT’S THE SAME BOOK mentioned above. I forgot most of the book besides the main character and Alaska, so it was the best thing ever because it was like I was reading the book for the first time again! And I have to say, it definitely did not disappoint!
It was actually even better this time around, because I got more of the philosophical thoughts in this book– and I also knew a bunch of the author references.
So! Here’s what I’ve got to say about the book–
The main character sets out at the beginning of the book for the “Great Perhaps”- the Great Perhaps being something the poet Franςois Rabelais declared on his death bed he was off to seek. Miles’ method of finding the Great Perhaps is leaving public schook to spend his last 2 years of high school in boarding school in Alabama where he ends up hanging out with some incredibly smart (and silly) kids- one of the most notable being this girl named Alaska.
Alaska is this fierce, incredibly smart, loud girl. Miles compares himself to her saying that if they were rain he’d be a drizzle (or something close to that- I forget) and she’d be a hurricane. She is this roller coaster of a woman, going from incredible highs to incredible lows. But what I love about her is that she isn’t that glorified broken girl character, her strengths and beauty are shown but also her weaknesses too and how she affects the people around her, both positively and negatively.
With having such an active character as Miles’ friend, Miles definitely moves in the book. He ends at a different place than he started in and so the book is pretty much centered on Miles becoming that slightly different person he became at the end of the novel through living and loving and learning.
His living consists of pranks and girls and reading and video games and doing a lot of homework and having a lot of discussions.
His loving consists of learning to be a friend and to having friends and getting to know girls and pretty much just growing up.
And his learning consists largely of these two quotes:
“I go to seek the Great Perhaps” by Franςois Rabelais
“[Bolívar] was shaken by the overwhelming revelation that the headlong race between his misfortunes and his dreams was at that moment reaching the finish line. The rest was darkness. ‘Damn it,’ he sighed. ‘How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!'” which was in Gabriel García Márquez’s book about Simón Bolívar.
He’s learning how to live when there is so much suffering and about forgiveness and how his decisions do or don’t affect the people around them.
I think one of the reasons why I ended up enjoying this book so much is because it’s so much about motion and changing– the world, the people around you and yourself moving and growing into something different. And not just that. How do you keep moving on? When is it okay to move on?
But that’s just me. 🙂 I’d be really interested to know what other people thought of this book… I guess suppose I’ll have to get going and read some reviews.
Ultimate Review: If you like books that make you think PICK THIS UP. If you’re just looking for something with characters who are interesting and lovable and a storyline that will capture your attention, still, PICK THIS UP. And who knows, you might think about stuff a long the way!
Random pointless story: While writing this review the UPS man delivered a package to one of my neighbors and my insanely nosy PROTECTOR OF THE STREET dog was outside (chained up thankfully- he is really good at jumping over fences) barking up a storm, so I tried to get him inside, but I ended up accidentally tripping him really bad and he fell. It was kind of sad. But he is a-ok now…