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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Looking for Alaska by John Green

I enjoyed this book but can't say it was a favorite. While it started off GREAT, had a lot of Laugh Out Load moments and loved the fact that the story was told from the point of view of one teenage guy - Miles Halter who wasn't popular, having no friends who decided to look for the "Great Perhaps" in a boarding school in Alabama called "Culver Creek". A lot happens to Miles in this year, things he would probably never forget and which probably shaped the grown man he became. But, alas, we only meet him and his new friends for a year.

I usually dislike teenage books with a passion! I just can't be bothered with the nonsense they keep thinking and god help us - saying! But this book was as far off than the usual teenage book as one could get. Firstly, since it's not really a romance book in the clear sense of the word, and it's more of a "coming of age" book, there is a lot of meaning to what happens to Miles and his friends and mostly to the way he and the people around him interpret those events. It made the story more real but also more meaningful, yet at the same time, it's the reason I'm giving this one 4 stars instead of 5. It got tedious on a certain point where I felt this book is becoming a "psycho-bubble" a bit too much for me. Also while the first half of the book was fun and enjoyable the other half which was suppose to be more "meaningful" lacked in "action", mostly I mean that it felt as nothing was happening, they were all somehow waiting for something to happen or to be revealed. Even though they were actively doing things it dragged in my opinion. 

When Miles leaves his parents in Florida and drives to "Culver Creek" high school in Alabama, he is looking to experience something new. Back home he was lonely and miserable, only contenting himself with his love for biography books and "collecting" last words of famous people. But right on the first day when he arrives at his new school his new roommate Chip Martin tells Miles to call him the Colonel and makes Miles a name too - Pudge. Soon after Chip announces he won't be Mile's "bridge" to social acceptance as he hates most of the other kids, mostly the ones he calls "The Weekday Warriors" - rich kids who only stay at school during the week days and return home for the weekend. The Colonel does introduce Pudge to his best friends the beautiful, mysterious and emotional Alaska Young as well as Takumi who is more Alaska's good friend than the Colonel's. Later on Lara the Romanian immigrant joins the group as Alaska tries to pare her with Pudge. 

These are not your typical youngsters, or maybe they are? I'm not sure. I guess these are not the kind of "heroes" we are used to read about.. They smoke, they drink, the pull pranks and in general think about making pranks most of the time. Yet they are good kids that might enjoy a little fun and games but are good friends who care about their friends and family. Well, Alaska is a bit different, but that's the thing about her, that's the uniqueness to her, her mood swings, the way she behaves in general that makes Pudge fall in love with her, even if he isn't so appealing himself (tall and skinny) and she already has a boyfriend she loves. 

The book starts at the beginning of the school year and ends at the last day of school and it's divided into two parts. The first part the chapters counts down 136 days BEFORE a certain event we are not prepared or know of until happens, and the rest of the book counts up the days up until 136 AFTER that certain event which shapes everything for the guys. It's quite strange but as it took me two days to read this one, the most significant time I've read was on that specific date of "revelations" in the book. Quite strange don't you think? It's the second time this month it happens to me.. 

The book is very philosophical, it's a good and bad thing all together. I think it's an EXCELLENT book for a teenager, but also very suiting for someone like me who vaguely remembers being a teenager.. While it's no New Adult in any sense of the word, the "Coming of Age" theme here of the Young Adult is very mature and feel like it could have been something older people could/would deal with. It would have probably dealt with differently as the setting would have had to be different for people outside school yet what Pudge and his friends are seeking - the meaning of life, of pain, is very global and I don't think I have the answer to the question myself. Maybe none of us do but it was interesting to ponder over it even if my accomplice in this particular journey was a teenage boy. 

Additional Details: Kindle Ebook, 254 pages, 9-10 January 2015 / On GoodReads

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