Looking for Alaska by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Right up front, I’ll say I really enjoyed Looking For Alaska. My first John Green read came with a lot of expectations and I wasn’t disappointed. That’s a lot right there. I will also say, I came right off of reading The Perks of Being A Wallflower which was also a strong book and had some similarities to this one. There were times when I compared the two, but by the end, they both stand as their own books and I would recommend reading both.
I can’t help but read books with an eye for what I might have done differently. If I’m thinking of what I would do differently early on and frequently, that’s probably not a good sign. As long as I only come up with a few things, and mostly after I’ve read the whole story, that’s fine. That’s the case for this book. In my mind, I kept thinking the title of the book was Finding Alaska. I had to correct myself many times as I thought of the book, and I think I know why. I wanted to find out something about Alaska Young. Minor spoiler here, but something happens midway through the book that gets the characters looking for Alaska. The big question for me was, “Will they find what they’re looking for?” The answer is, basically, no, but the author got me to a level of acceptance about that by the end. Feeling what they felt was a key point of the book, and that was accomplished. We did learn something about her before the end, but it was easily guessed long before it was finally revealed.
This is not a book of happenings, it’s a book of character relationships and introspection. The characters are very well developed and the relationships are very believable. Look elsewhere for an adventure.
I will waste a little more space with a pet peeve of mine, something that started developing with Perks and has intensified with this book. Why do authors feel that in order to make their teenage characters interesting and deep they all have to be chain smokers? I’ve read so much about people smoking in these last few books I’ve got sympathetic emphysema. Obviously, people make bad choices in life and teenagers are especially apt to pick up bad habits without concern for long term effect. But come on. Couldn’t we do a little better as authors to set a healthier example for our readers and stop using smoking as a crutch to provide self-inflicted harm on our teenage characters to show how ‘invincible’ they believe they are? Early in the book, I was convinced one of the main characters was going to develop lung cancer before the book was finished.
I guess I’ll just have to wait for the sequel : Looking for a Tracheotomy
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