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Looking for Alaska
Looking For Alaska - John Green
Member Name: Kittenpeach
Looking For Alaska - John Green
Advantages: Compelling light reading, with an interesting plot.
Disadvantages: I found it hard to be sympathetic to some of the characters, even though I think I was supposed to.
I decided to read this book, after seeing it being mentioned on countless blogs and hearing only positive things about it. I was a little dubious because I suppose this book would be classed as 'teen fiction' and I didn't know if I would really enjoy it, although it proved an entertaining light read.
The story revolves around Miles aka 'Pudge' a 16 year old who leaves his Florida home to go to a boarding school in Alabama in search of a "great perhaps". Once he arrives at Culver Creek, he meets his new room-mate Chip (The Colonel) who has a reputation for being a bit of a prankster, and they soon become firm friends. Not long after, he is introduced to the Colonel's partner in crime, the beautiful but mysterious Alaska Young. Of course Miles falls for Alaska, and much of the story centres on his hopeless infatuation with her. The three of them, along with a couple of other pals, are all extremely intelligent, but prone to getting in trouble with one of the teachers, who they refer to as 'The Eagle', because of their love of pulling pranks around school. Alas, tragedy strikes Miles' new life at the Creek, and then the main themes of the novel are revealed.
John Green has managed to produce a really great little novel, which touches on some of the harsher times in teenage life. It's a novel about growing up, what it means to have friends, and how to cope when you lose people that are important to you. It also deals with some of the more predictable themes, such as first love/first kiss etc.
For me, this book was slightly reminiscent of Donna Tartt's 'The Secret History' and Brett Easton Ellis' 'The Rules of Attraction'. Although this book was set at a boarding school, and not at a college, a lot of the language seemed familiar, as well as some of the issues that the aforementioned books touch on. Obviously with 'Looking for Alaska' I think that it is aimed at a slightly younger audience, and it's not quite as sophisticated, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
I think John Green probably wanted the reader to feel moved by some of the passages in this book, but I didn't react like that at all. I don't know if I'm just being a bit heartless, but characters such as Alaska didn't endear themselves to me at all, so it was hard to muster up any sympathy for her. I really did like the character of 'The Colonel', he was definitely mischievous but it was obvious that he had a good heart, and really did care for his friends.
This book has it's serious moments, but there is also a fair bit of humour involved, notably some of the very impressive pranks the gang manage to pull off, which I'm such if I was still in school, I would have been pretty blown away with!
I finished this book in about two sittings, as it's really not a long book at all, and it's easy to get caught up in. I think if you are looking for some light reading, with a compelling story, then this would be the ideal book.
I'd definitely consider reading some of John Green's other book in the future, as the language he uses is fairly evocative and the characters engaging enough to be believable.
This book is widely available, and I picked up my copy from Waterstones.com who offer free delivery in the UK! The cost was £4.89, so you can actually save yourself a bit of money online, rather than buying it in store.
Summary: A story about love and loss, and what it means to be a friend.
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