Looking For Alaska- John Green (Book Review)

Now, before I begin this (hopefully not too long) book review, it should probably be noted that I officially suck at sticking to set dates/times that I set myself, seeing as how I planned on doing this yesterday. But you know what sometimes the heat just gets to me and its a bit of a struggle to fathom my thoughts into a comprehensible and reliable review. Nevertheless, I’m here and here we go:

I went into this book expecting great things, and because of these unrealistically high expectations and reviews that people had written and personally told me it sort of put a bit of a downer on my excitement so much so that I didn’t really want to read it at all anymore… For this reason it took me several months from physically owning the book before I actually picked it up and started to read it. Also the only reason I did was because I was in a massive and inescapable reading slump between October to well, now. This was pretty much due to end of year 12 exams, graduation, studying and being in a post The Fiery Heart (Richelle Mead) and The Heroes of Olympus: The House of Hades (Rick Riordan) depression. I read these two books way too close together after I was free from exams and studying and school and they came back to bite me in the behind later on I found…

*Slaps self to get back on track*
Anyway, this book was pretty good. Not as great as it was hyped up to be and not as great as my own expectations but I still enjoyed quite a bit (despite how long it took me to read, which is far too long to admit considering it’s only a 263 page book). I think that after reading The Fault in our Stars I set in motion- in my own head- that all of John Green’s novels would be on the same level of awesomeness and originality. For those of you that have read TFIOS you’ll know that that book is just supreme, and I expected the same from LFA. For this reason I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and I’ll justify this to you right now:

This book absolutely did not lack the same sense of thoughtfulness and philanthropy that TFIOS did. Throughout this novel I was constantly questioning the smaller things in life and how I perceived the world around me and how it too perceived me. This is one of those books that really does make you think about the meaning of life, death and all of the suffering in between, especially as it centres around the labyrinth of the world and how one can either take the long road in life or take the “short and fast” option. The main character Miles- at first- was really hard for me to tolerate as well as empathise with, but by the end I was completely besotted with his character and felt very truly sorry for him (if you’ve read the book than you’ll know what I mean). Not only does this book follow the story of how Miles comes to discover himself, but also shows how he learns to make friends, experiment with new things, ignore expectations and explore the possibilities of love. To any teenager these are all realistic and understandable topics and I found that Miles was a very relatable character to read in the perspective of.

All of the characters throughout this novel varied. I especially loved The Colonel (‘Chip’), struggled to particularly like Takumi and Lara and also had very mixed emotions about Alaska. I loved the relationship between Miles and Alaska, and constantly found myself in love with the parts of the book that only had those two in it. Not only are they on the same intellectual level but they are able to learn so much from the other at the same time, which I think makes any relationship (and friendship) that much better. The only thing that bothers me about this book was the slight lack in character development surrounding Alaska, however that pretty much is the sole purpose and message behind the book itself so I’m able to accept it. It might just be me but I think that this ambiguity is Green’s way of allowing the audience to determine her past (and future?) for themselves. Throughout the whole book Alaska is a very mysterious and somewhat unpredictable character, and to see how she is perceived by Miles and the rest of the gang definitely makes everything much more interesting.

I myself am a big fan of books/series that conclude well and leave me feeling very satisfied (but not unrealistically so) in knowing what happens with all of the characters. In a sense this book did give me that, aside from Alaska. Without giving away too much and spoiling the ending, the last few pages of this book were brilliant in their own sense but I also felt that this book did end rather abruptly and blankly. There was nothing especially extravagant that tied up the book, or anything that hinted towards where the characters were going. Through Miles’ point of view the last few pages (as mentioned) were spectacular and the last few lines really did pull at my heart strings a little bit (and I did finally myself ‘aww’-ing out aloud on more than one occasion).

This is the reason why I couldn’t bring myself to give this book a 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, simply because I can’t say that it left me feeling completely and utterly in the know.

Although I think what I enjoyed the most about this book was that it made me question and think about a lot of things, and I love that in a book. I love a book that challenges me intellectually and I knew that this book would provoke such things when I went into it (I mean, it is a John Green novel after all). What happens after we die is a very heavily discussed topic and as it discusses multiple religious perspectives on the matter it truly does bring a whole new level of seriousness to it. It was also intriguing to see teenage points of view on this, as most of the time you would expect such things to be discussed by older scholars or religious advocates. Some lines throughout the book really did strike me and left me wondering

Overall, I really did enjoy this book as a whole. I would highly recommend it to anyone that enjoyed any other of John Green’s work, or even if you enjoy a good contemporary novel. Here are some of my favourite things about it:

Favourite Character: The Colonel or Alaska
Favourite Moment: Thanksgiving with The Colonel, Miles and Alaska
Favourite Quote(s):
“Everything that comes together falls apart” (pg. 233)
“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” (pg. 233)
“Someday no one will remember that she ever existed… or that I did. Because memories fall apart too. And then you’re left with nothing, left not even with a ghost but with its shadow… she was slipping away, falling apart in my memory and everyone else’s, dying again” (pg. 234)
Rating: 4/5 stars



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