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Presented by State Library Victoria

Looking for Alaska by John Green Book Review

Can I just say before I begin to start reviewing anything that even though I read realistic fiction and “real-life romances” and “family drama” they are not my FAVOURITE genres to read. (I’m more of a fantasy type of person. You know? ACOTAR, Grishaverse etc.)

With that in mind know that John Green or any other realistic fiction authors aren’t going to be my number one pick (Simon vs The Homosapiens Agenda is the only exception I’m making) and I have read both the Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All The Way Down which have been both “New York Times Bestsellers” to prove my point. With high hopes and expectations, I was expecting a real tear-jerker and an epic high school action thriller and I never got it. Hence my low expectations for Looking For Alaska.

I guess I have one thing to say about Looking For Alaska and that is that it was a MAJOR improvement from Turtles All The Way Down and The Fault In Our Stars.

Looking For Alaska of course incorporated themes from both books (or those two had gotten their themes from this book considering it was John Green’s debut young adult novel) It was written with the hardships and problems every kid in high school faces: friendships, new school, pranking people and trying not to get in trouble with adults or teachers (with the additional philosophical prose that John Green almost signs his name onto in EVERY SINGLE ONE OF HIS BOOKS)

But John Green being John Green adds in his usual poignant touch that looms like a ghostly spirit over every book and hides in the shadows of those printed words waiting to kill off a character.

I’m not joking here, I’m being serious. You have to expect the worst when reading anything written by this author. I have which was why The Fault In Our Stars and Looking For Alaska weren’t as melancholy for me as it was for some other readers. (Then again I watched the movie of TFIOS before I read the book so I already knew what happened (thanks Auntie for spoiling everything to me) and like two years ago I saw a list of: SAD BOOKS TO READ WHEN YOU NEED A CRY. Clicked on it and saw Looking For Alaska. Really, it tells it all in the name and as I said IT’S JOHN GREEN WHAT DO YOU EXPECT!?)

In that sense I expected what was going to happen but I went in reading this almost blindfolded.

What do I mean by that? Well, I got this collectors edition of Looking For Alaska and it simply says the quote

“If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”

Cryptic to say the least. Of course I wasn’t so stupid as to not look up the actual blurb on Goodreads so in a way I got a sense of what kind of book I was heading into reading.

Books are like flowers though. The more you read the more it will bloom. Meaning that if you read on you will develop a greater sense of what the story is more than a summarised passage ever could. To be honest, I forgot what the blurb even said apart from the characters names. But I let myself discover more about this fictional/not fictional world that was created.

Look, even though it was an improvement from TATWD and TFIOS, I didn’t have the same excitement as I usually had when I was enjoying a fantasy book. It was a bit drab sometimes and sometimes things weren’t happening (I find realistic books kind of oddly relaxing because of this)

Most of the exciting parts came from the pranks they created especially one of them that happened in the “after” part. Honestly, I would love to read a whole book dedicated to The Colonel’s, Takumi’s, Alaska’s and Miles (Pudge’s) pranks (seriously John Green you should consider this)

And I enjoyed the writing as well which should be commended. There are only a handful of authors with such skill to make the reader feel connected to the book and its characters (e.g., making the reader feel sad throughout the novel even in not-so-sad scenes) and to do that throughout the whole novel phew! Big job. So congratulations Mr Green on that achievement.

Things I didn’t like: the smoking in this book. It was present in almost every single chapter (if you would call ONE HUNDRED AND FOUR DAYS AFTER a chapter heading) and Miles was such a smol bean at the start. So innocent and then suddenly he gets handed a cigarette and starts drinking HEAVILY (and I mean HEAVILY) and starts blowing things up with FIREWORKS and basically puts his life at risk. So to say that there was a love/hate relationships between me and the characters (Alaska and The Colonel especially) was a bit of an understatement. Also I was shipping/not shipping Alaska and Miles just because of this.

Also, look. I don’t mind smoking in books. (Not that I do it myself) but when it is almost a major theme it’s a bit disconcerting. Like, we get that you smoke you don’t have to mention it a billion times in the 263 pages of the novel just get back to the storyline will ya? (Next time if I re-read it I will count the number of times cigarettes have been mentioned)

Nothing happened much and that kind of sucked. Then again I’m used to this happening in John Green’s books. It’s the reason why I never get THAT emotionally attached to his characters. But still, LFA was still MUCH MUCH MUCH better than Turtles All The Way Down which was almost seemed like a C-Diff and OCD medical file than an actual novel FOR TEENAGERS.

All in all, it was good. It was okay. Not the best but not the worst book in the world. In all of John Green’s novels it was one of the better ones. Then again, I haven’t read Paper Towns or An Abundance Of Katherines yet (or Let It Snow/Will Grayson Will Grayson but those two have been co-written with different writers so I wouldn’t count that) but Paper Towns was highly praised so I might give that one a go before I make any final decisions about whether I think John Green’s books are a hit or miss in general and in my own personal opinion.