Saturday, March 10, 2012

Brief Review: Looking for Alaska

A few years ago, I had a crush on guy.  He knew YA lit was my thing, so he asked me to make a recommendation for a great YA book.  I handed him Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska

I waited in breathless anticipation to hear that he loved the novel as much as I did.
Suprisingly, he didn't like it at all.  He said the plot was predictable, the writing mediocre, and the themes heavy-handed.  Needless to say, I don't have a crush on that boy any more.

Looking for Alaska is not a perfect book, but I do think (as I may have already stated) that it is a quintessential YA novel with all the good - and bad - that that title entails.  The themes are fairly straightforwardly spelled out.  The story of a crazy girl who changes a boy's life is awfully familiar.  The supporting characters border on too quirky to be believable.  The writing is lovely, but it does take a second place to the plot. 

the Positives, though, so beautifully outweigh the problems the novel may have. The emotions are so finely wrought.  I feel the adoration, the awkwardness, the grief and the guilt that Pudge, the protagonist, feels.  Pudge is dynamic, and his changes are real and deep.  This novel tells a story of a teen embracing what it means to be human in a way that few other novels have done so well.  Alaska could have so easily fallen into the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" trap, but she always remains so much more than that; and throughout the book has more life than just the meaning she imparts to Pudge.  And the pranks, oh the pranks!  They are glorious.

All in all, this is a fine book and one I will continue to recommend until I find that someone who loves it as much as I do.


  1. I guess I need to try reading that again. I tried listening to it on audiobook on a long trip. I didn't get through the first cd for two reasons: the cd skipped, and the narrator struck me as whiney. Since it's one of your favorites, I assume it gets better?

    1. hmmm, the protagonist didn't seem whiny to me, but I can see how someone might see him that way. Of course, it may even be that the audiobook narrator had a whiny voice, haha! I would suggest trying it again. I really love it, but I know it's not a book for everyone. It's written in a very unique style that might be off-putting to some.

    2. I updated you on facebook, but what's the fun in that? It was definitely the audiobook actor sounding whiney/trying too hard to sound cool/profound (...and the skipping cd). The line about the "Great Perhaps" sounded snooty coming from the audiobook, and reading it I was like, I love that! I read it while subbing today (high school kids watching a movie). I agree that it's not perfect, but I did enjoy it.


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