Looking for Alaska by John Green


Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words–and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.
Surprisingly, this was the John Green book I cried to, not TFIOS. The setting of the story being in a boarding school, it opened a lot of ideas for me because I never knew what it’s like to be in boarding school and I’m not saying that this book shows it all. No. The thing is, I like stories wherein there is a community involved. The more characters, the better and merrier, I say. Besides the main characters, there is ofcourse their classmates, parents and professors. The story focuses on Pudge, Alaska, The Colonel, Takumi and maybe Lara, but also shows how they interact with the other minor characters. The pranks they play on the “weekend warriors,” avoiding the plight of the “Eagle” and other teachers, and the kind of relationships they have with their families.

Everything started with Pudge looking for his “Great Perhaps” in Culver Creek Preparatory High School. I love how John develops his characters. They are so well thought of and because of that, you get a sense that you know the characters, well, like an old friend. He likes reading biographies and it’s like an obsession of his to know their last words. The moment he met Alaska Young I knew he’d fall hard for her. He did but she already had a boyfriend which she always points out, even though it’s obvious she also likes him. I kept thinking of ways how they could end up together, but ofcourse they don’t because Alaska dies, which I didn’t knew because I make it a habit not to know anything about the book I’m about to read. So anyway, Alaska introduced Miles is to Simon Bolivar’s last words “Damn it. How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!” and this sort of becomes their basis in finding out if Alaska’s death was an accident or did she commit suicide? They figured from a clue they found, “straight and fast” written by Alaska in her book.

So the question is, do I believe that Alaska took her own life? No, as unstable of a character as she was, I believe that she loved life. “Straight and fast” could have meant a lot of things, but I don’t see it as a link to how Alaska was gonna get out of this labyrinth of a life through that. I would like to think that as much as she was a screw up, there was hope in her heart somewhere that someday she will find happiness. She loved her boyfriend and as far as I know she was pretty serious about him.  That in itself speaks of her hope for her future, a possible future with her boyfriend.

 I feel that Pudge’s grief for Alaska was a bit of an over reaction. I highly believe that he was in grief because he never knew if Alaska loved her too or that there would never be a “to be continued” with whatever it was they had going on with them. He didn’t knew her that long, yeah he knew a thing or two about Alaska that some of her old friends didn’t but I don’t think that was enough for a grief that big. I know it’s wrong to base it on how long they have met, but I feel that The Colonel and Takumi had more “right” to grieve. They shared more fun times and bad times and they knew each others secrets. When the Colonel broke down crying at her funeral, that had me right there. I cried and cried again and again. I’m still crying now. I know how it is to lose a friend, but the grief of knowing that you could’ve done something to not let that person slip from your hands is a whole different level of grief, and so I thought about that and that just had me crying even more.

The whole time Pudge and the Colonel were figuring out Alaska’s death, I kept wondering what happened to Takumi and Lara, they were also her friends, somehow I knew that they’re carrying their own grief as well, but why were they not shown? I started hating on that part, but eventually they showed up and it just sucks ‘cause Takumi had every right to say all those things to Pudge but why does it feel wrong? I guess because I felt the genuine love Pudge had for Alaska, which makes his grief okay.

 At the end of it all, what was the point of finding out if she killed herself or not? It doesn’t make her less dead. Great though that Pudge realizes that to survive the labyrinth is by way of forgiveness. I know I’m missing all these profanities underlying in the story but for me this story is about friendship and loyalty.

My Rating: 5 out of 5!

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