Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Looking For Alaska by John Green

Miles Halter (Pudge), the novel's protagonist, is fifteen years old and what parents and teachers would call a good kid. He's chicken-legged skinny, undeniably bright, and a bit of an idealist at heart. In addition to having a penchant for remembering famous figures' last words, Miles gets wrapped up in the significance of those words enough to leave his sheltered home in Florida in order to seek out Rabelais's Great Perhaps --- which oddly enough, translates into going to boarding school in rural Alabama.

There, he befriends a ragtag group of early teens, including his boisterous roommate, appropriately nicknamed the Colonel; Takumi, the soft-spoken and musically inclined Japanese whiz kid; Lara, the gorgeous and mild-mannered Romanian; and Alaska, the sexy, fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants leader of the group. For a while, not much happens to push the plot along aside from these characters' occasional mischief, i.e. getting busted for smoking cigarettes on campus, drinking liquor in their dorm rooms, sneaking out after curfew, and the like --- harmless behavior with harmless consequences.

Alaska Young's death. In an up-close and personal manner, the details of Alaska's last moments are chronicled through the eyes of Miles and his pals as they struggle to understand how something so unthinkable could have happened in their intimate community. Was it an accident, or did she kill herself in a selfish attempt to plow her way out of the labyrinth? Could her friends have stopped her, knowing what they knew about her past? Would life ever be the same, now that Alaska was dead?

This novel was good just not great. I felt the author, John Green, didn't capture teenagers all that well. The characters weren't very believable and it just didn't do it for me. I would of thought the reason for what had happened to Alaska would of been something really big. Mind-blowing big. But it was just about something she had forgotten. I don't think I'll be reading another one of his books.

Read On!


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