Wednesday, March 11, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Looking for Alaska by John Green

This is a book review for Looking for Alaska by John Green. I read this as part of my Banned Book Challenge. I also read it for Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. After. Nothing is ever the same.

I am beginning to think that all John Green books are the same. Or at the very least, this is a repeat of Paper Towns. I think if I had not read Paper Towns, I may have enjoyed this one more. Yet again, we have a scrawny nerd who falls in love instantly with the mysterious, beautiful, smart, crazy and unattainable girl next door. Of course this girl loves to drink, smoke, and have sex. And yet again, we have John Green beating us over the heads with metaphor after metaphor. And the metaphors aren't even subtle. At one of the points in the book, one of the characters makes a remark to Alaska (the mysterious, unattainable one), "You live for pretentious metaphors." Uh no, John Green . . . you have the character of Alaska confused for you. There was the metaphor of Miles looking for the "Great Perhaps" (a task he completely forgets once he sets eyes on Alaska) and there is the constant search for a way out of "the labyrinth of suffering." Eventually, I just rolled my eyes every time they mentioned it. Yeah, yeah I get it. Even the title is a damn metaphor.

I will say that John Green writes beautifully. And the event of the "after" was a complete surprise and it broke my heart. No spoilers, but it was handled well. I was more invested in the "after" part of the book than the "before" section. Of course, much like Paper Towns, the "after" section has a mystery that Miles and his friends are trying to solve. I was not a fan of the ending, but I don't know that John Green could have ended it any other way. All in all, I was very disappointed with this book.

Buy/Recommend/Skip: Well that depends. If you have read other John Green books, you can skip this one. If you have never read Paper Towns, then I would recommend you buy it because you will probably enjoy it.

18 comments :

  1. Well, I think I just wrote a comment and it got eaten (I've been having that problem lately). I was trying to say that I think the reactions to Green's novels are interesting to read. I read Looking for Alaska first, and it remains my favorite! I do believe that many readers enjoy the first book or two of his, but catch on quickly to the similar characters/themes/metaphors/writing/language and get tired of it by the third or fourth book. I would love to see him trying something different to shake things up a bit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right! I think if I had read this one first, I probably would have enjoyed it more. Maybe. :)

      Delete
  2. I only read The Fault In Our Stars, which I thought was brilliant. Been meaning to pick this one up, but now I'm a little torn :) Still, I think that since I haven't read Paper Towns... The idea of the nerd falling in love with a gorgeous girl next door does have a strong appeal to a "beginner" in all things John Greene such as myself. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ramona! I also LOVED TFIOS. I thought it was so great. I think if you haven't read Paper Towns, you will probably like this one. But I still think Paper Towns is better than this one.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for your review. I've only read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, which I loved reading... So, I've been wanting to read another one of his novels and had thought about this one or Paper Towns... After reading your review of Looking for Alaska, I think I'll pass on reading this novel! The metaphors aren't so subtle and it sounds like John Green is rehashing themes or at least writing the same kinds of stuff over and over again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Captivated Reader! I loved TFIOS. Honestly, I thought Paper Towns was a bit better than this one. But if you are tired of all the metaphors, you probably won't like either one.

      Delete
  4. I completely agree Cynthia, apart from The Fault in Our Stars, all John Green's adventure type storylines all feature the same type of quirky character who the reader is supposed to fall in love with, before he reveals the big finale and leaves most of us deflated. It feels like the same character types rehashed over and over for the sake of making a few bucks. I read Paper Towns before this one as well, and couldn't help but to compare the two as well. It was almost a carbon copy sadly. I'd like to see him try something new as well, that's the mark of a great author. Able to adapt and reinvent yourself and your work. It seems he might just be resting on his laurels now though. Lovely review Cynthia <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! I agree that TFIOS was probably the one that was a bit different from Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns. I don't think I can read any of his books until he tries something new.

      Delete
  5. I was utterly disappointed too :/ I feel that The Fault in Our Stars just set the bar really high for Mr. Green. Also, this was his first narrative (I believe). He's progressed, but you are right, each one of his book carries the same colorless themes; they're a bit boring to say the least.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Claudia, if this was his first book then maybe that explains my feelings. Maybe he just has gotten better with the writing. I loved TFIOS, but his other books just seem to be too similar.

      Delete
  6. I like John Green's books, but it can get tiresome that there always has to be a theme and ten thousand metaphors to support it. Paper Towns is probably my favorite out of all his books, and I'm pretty sure he said somewhere that he was trying to deconstruct Looking for Alaska's mistakes (the dream girl with no mistakes we don't really get to know) in Paper Towns, so I think if I had read Paper Towns first and Looking for Alaska second, I would have enjoyed Looking for Alaska much less than I did. I wasn't a huge fan of the last couple pages either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Calla. I do think that Paper Towns was better than this one. But TFIOS is still my favorite. :)

      Delete
  7. I kinda hated The Fault in Our Stars but I have been considering reading this one since everyone seems to like it. Howver, since the biggest issue I had with TFIOS was the overuse of metaphor to a pretentious degree, this seems like a book that would annoy me just as much. Thanks for the warning!

    Cayt @ Vicarious Caytastrophe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Cayt! I actually liked TFIOS, but if you hate the overuse of metaphor you will hate this one for sure.

      Delete
  8. I liked this one, but I also agree with everything you've said. It is a lot like Paper Towns (and, from what I have heard, An Abundance of Katherines as well), but I still liked it. There were some key differences that were enough for me. BUT, I think that if I read MORE books from John Green, I do need them to be different. I could handle similarities for two books, but that would likely be my limit. I have no plans to read this story again with new character names. Great review!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Shannon! I am thinking that I will stay away from his other books unless I can see some different themes.

      Delete
  9. To be honest, I've not had the appetite to read John Green's backlisted books. He's like one of those brave writers who couldn't give two sh*ts about how his characters would affect the readers. Which doesn't really bode for me, because I'm one of those readers who needed to be coddled. Lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, Joyous Reads. That is hilarious and I think VERY true. I am really not happy with what happened to the main characters in any of his books.

      Delete