Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.
I read this book at the recommendation of my friend Lydia (and am publishing the review today in celebration of her 17th birthday! Happy birthday Lydia!), using the same reading “method” as in The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. I had only read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars before this, which is one of the few contemporary fiction books I have ever fallen in love with (and I mean tumbled head first into super sad and never ending love).
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Rating: 4.5 stars
Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
After. Nothing is ever the same.
I read this book at the recommendation of my friend Lydia (and am publishing the review today in celebration of her 17th birthday! Happy birthday Lydia!), using the same reading “method” as in The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. I had only read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars before this, which is one of the few contemporary fiction books I have ever fallen in love with (and I mean tumbled head first into super sad and never ending love). I was not expecting this from Looking for Alaska, and this is not exactly what I got, either. I did love this book, but it took me 20 days to read instead of 2, and it didn’t cause quite the same emotional reaction as from The Fault in Our Stars.
Looking for Alaska is wonderfully well written book containing many of my new favorite quotes, both very deep and simple but clever:
“It always shocked me when I realized that I wasn’t the only person in the world who thought and felt such strange and awful things.”
“Sometimes you lose a battle. But mischief always wins the war”
“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia… You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”
However, I was a little disappointed in some categories. I thought the plot dragged along quite slowly, and I didn’t like most of the character’s choices, so never really loved any of the characters fully.
What I did love about this book is how deep it makes you think about and question life, more so than The Fault in Our Stars. A main theme in this book is what is referred to as ‘the labyrinth of suffering,” and the meaning of life and death and what it all means is talked about in length. Speaking of, I would love to take Dr. Hyde’s (the Old Man) World Religions class, where much of this conversation is centered around. Some of my favorite quotes from him and about him include:
“We are engaged here in the most important pursuit in history: the search for meaning.”
“I’d never been religious, but he told us that religion is important whether or not we believed in one, in the same way that historical events are important whether or not you personally lived through them”
His class is my dream class — one in which you not only learn content, but develop skills and actually think about more than just your final grade. So many important messages are addressed in this book, including religion, women’s rights, different kinds of love, forgiveness, and where you go after death. In this way, this book is an extremely important read for any teenager.
Something else I loved about Looking for Alaska were the character’s strange hobbies: Pudge loved to read biographies and memorizes people’s last words, the Colonel memorized countries, their capitals, and their populations, Alaska collected books from garage sales to read later in life, which she called her Life’s Library. These are all interesting hobbies I would love to indulge in myself.
I’m also including here a video I recommend to people who have already read the book (contains major spoilers). This video really shows the parallels between John Green’s high school experience and the adventures Pudge is involved in in Looking for Alaska.
Bible wise, this book is perfect, novel wise, it’s almost there.