20 January 2011

Review of John Green, Looking for Alaska

First of all, congratulations to Jessica B. the winner of my Across the Universe giveaway.  And thank you to all my wonderful followers and everybody who entered.

I was a bit hesitant to review this book.  I'm exactly sure why, but I've been putting it off.

Looking for Alaska is the story of a friendless teenager, Miles Halter, who leaves his Florida home, for boarding school in Alabama.  He quickly befriends his roommate-known as the Colonel- and sides with him in the prank wars with the "Weekday Warriors" - the rich kids who go home every weekend.  He also finds himself falling for Alaska, a friend and fellow prankster of the Colonel's who, unfortunately, has a college boyfriend.  She promises to find him a girlfriend, hijinks ensue.

I loved the first half of the book.  Alaska seemed like the kind of girl I would have hung out with when I was a teenager, so it was easy to see why Miles, the narrator, was instantly attracted to her.  With the first person narration, Green plays a somewhat cruel trick, allowing the reader to grow as attached to Alaska as Miles is.  The other characters were also lively, especially the eccentric Colonel.  I was definitely more attached to the two "supporting actors" than I was to Miles, but that's okay.

I like John Green's style, which is developing nicely in this book.  He is a master of quirky details.  For instance, Miles is a collector of famous last words, Alaska is a collector of books, her "life's library" (and of bottles of pink Strawberry Hill wine), and the colonel memorizes facts of geography.  Each of the characters has a schtick, which is kind of Dickensian.  The first half of the book captures nicely the day to day lives of these teenagers. - a little dramatic, a little rebellious, a little studious. 

SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT.  It is the second half of the book that disappointed me.  I knew things had to change, because that's what happens in books.  They have plots and dramatic arcs.  However, I didn't want the change to come.  I also thought that after the major event that is indicated by the section and chapter titles ("Before," "eighty-seven days before") the book dragged a bit.

Overall:  I would recommend this book, but would qualify that the first half is better than the second.  My readerly expectations were set high, and the follow through just didn't cut it. I'm starting to think I'm the type of reader for whom endings might never be satisfying.

1 comment:

  1. I got this book for my birthday and to say the least, I never had expected to read it before I was given it.
    I'm glad it's better than I thought it was and I like the fact as you said that John Green allows you to become attached to Alaska. That's a great name don't you think? :)

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