Monday, June 3, 2013

Looking for Alaska by John Green...

John Green
Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Published: 2005 by Harper Collins
Pages: 268
Price: Rs. 299
My Rating: 5/5!

*This could be more of a why-I-loved-this-book, than a structured-review* 
But I'd suggest you still read it. ;)

Looking for Alaska is my second John Green book, after The Fault in Our Stars, which I inevitably loved. I had a lot of expectations from Looking for Alaska but I actually didn't know much about what the story is going to be like. I guess that's what made me love the book more than I thought it would, because it was totally a "first-time-experience" while reading, not knowing anything in advance what the story would be like. I'd had this book on my TBR just because I loved TFIOS and a couple of friends whose book judgement I trust blindly, had tagged the book under "hugely recommended reads". It (reading the book) was a profound journey, filled with moments of anxiousness, irritation, happiness, smiles, confusion, heartbreak and learning. This book is one I'm going to keep with me at all times, to be opened up to any random page and start reading whenever I feel like it. 

Goodreads blurb!
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" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. Then 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.

My Thoughts!
When the book began, I was confused. And I'm admitting to a very funny (and embarrassing) thing over here: I mentioned how I was clueless about the story? I hadn't even read the blurb properly and had no idea about the characters. So..... well, I took Miles to be a female character. Okay, laugh all you want. Maybe I missed a 'she' or 'her', or maybe it wasn't there at all, but until the first mention of Miles being a 'he' was made (which was maybe 4 pages into the book), I was imagining him as a her. Anyway, so I read those pages over again once I realized the blunder, and read it again with more enthusiasm, because it's been ages since I last read a book with a boy as a protagonist (do you think girls are more used as the protagonist, instead of boys?), that too a boy who wants to live his life inspired by a famous person's last words! How attractive! ;) 

So yeah, I did like Miles. Maybe because I have this hunger for smart kids in books. I love them, they're the kind I wish I had for real in my life as friends (not that my friends aren't smart. I would just love these bookish ones too!). Then came Chip, Miles's roommate who I thought was a bossy character, but he seemed like pretty much a normal guy later on. I really liked Takumi's character, especially in the fox-hat scene! Lara seemed more of a person who's kind of liked by all and you can't help having her around and you automatically include her in your plans and activities and talks. Finally, coming to Alaska. Personally I'm a decent kid. No crass language (okay, sometimes I do use them, but mostly in writing about something that hugely infuriates me), no lies, no crossing limits kind of a person. But I always sensed this other side of me lying in the shadows, dormant. I know even now, given a certain level of freedom, that part could wake up and the desire and hunger for risk and adventure would take over. That's what Alaska was to me. I wondered if I could be the "other side of me", it could come close to Alaska. 

Maybe I wouldn't be too callous with my words and language (frankly, those were the first things that made me think 'This is Alaska? I don't like her character one bit!'). But then I do love books and I wished I could be defined as "the girl who loves books" (Oh wait. Maybe I already am! :D ), but still! I gradually grew fond of Alaska in the most non-traditional sense. I didn't like a lot of things she did, but I still liked her boldness, intellect, randomness, mysteriousness and the way she was loved. One of the most striking things about this book for me was the realization that people are loved so much and cared for, by those who.. well, those who love them. I mean, this kind of love makes me envious. Though I'm a strictly going-by-the-rules kind of a girl, I enjoyed the pranks these guys played. 

I think the "Before" and "After" thing was unique and that is something that adds a lot of value to the book. It gives off a sense of mystery and if you're a clueless-about-the-story-beforehand kind of a reader, you'd be breezing through the story happily until you get to the "bomb" part of the book, which just gave me a minor heart attack. I took a two day break before continuing. The best, best, best thing about this book was how so many things are metaphors. I love metaphors, how they give a sense that you're not alone, that something equivalent to your situation exists somewhere parallel. It's awesome and I loved how this book had the major parts of the story as a metaphor. I loved the reality aspect of the book. That it's not necessary to always have a happy ending, and you can't always have the answers you look for. 

I really love this book because it made me like it despite having so many characteristics I usually don't like in a book. It's like, something that challenged my mindset and won! :D I don't remember if I cried anywhere in the book, maybe in the end reading Pudge's (Miles's nickname) answer to the question, "How will we get out of the labyrinth of suffering?" I think I found this one more profound and moving than TFIOS. Although I like a lot of lines and quotes from the book, I'd still mention a couple of my favorites!

“We are all going, I thought, and it applies to turtles and turtlenecks, Alaska the girl and Alaska the place, because nothing can last, not even the earth itself. The Buddha said that suffering was caused by desire, we'd learned, and that the cessation of desire meant the cessation of suffering. When you stopped wishing things wouldn't fall apart, you'd stop suffering when they did.”

"That is the fear: I have lost something important, and I cannot find it, and I need it. It is fear like if someone lost his glasses and went to the glasses store and they told him that the world had run out of glasses and he would just have to do without.” -- I kind of understood what this means exactly. :D

Recommended for: Everyone. Just be aware that it's considered John Green's "dirtiest" book. It's a book worth reading a million times, and can be best read if you don't read summaries and reviews beforehand.

PS- People living in Delhi! Please fill out the survey form in the tab 'World Book Fair Survey', if you still haven't. Please! It's for my summer internship project.!



2 comments:

  1. Looking for Alaska is that kind of a book which you can read again and again and again. And every time you'll read it, you'll find and like something more than the last time. And I totally second you on the point of metaphors, they kind of transform the book and its characters and also the reader. They are one of the best things about the book.

    Alaska is the kind of girl that inspires you while at the same time makes you hate her for the fact that she's so mysterious and difficult to understand. But then that was the thing that made her character so interesting, right? She's someone you'd definitely want to meet, if not be. ;)

    The review was total love, forget the intricacies of a proper review, whatever that are. It was fun and yes, the book should be recommended to all, except maybe to those who don't like anything other than crime/murder mystery. Happy reading it again. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, right?? I'm sure I'll learn more and more each time I read it. Yeah I guess I felt like being like her too, at some point. ;)

      :D Thank you for the lovely comment. :)

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