Monday, September 16, 2013

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Title: Looking For Alaska
Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Children's Books
Original Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 231

Here's the second book borne out of having been lost in a labyrinth that is Tolstoy (it is true that YA are easy reads, with respect to Looking for Alaska though, that is an understatement).

John Green's first book that I have first read, which interestingly, did not leave any hint of novelty. The reason is conspicuous enough. The plot is conventional and prevalent (predictable too). Who hasn't read, or heard of, of teenagers who know everything, of people who believe they stand at the top of the world only to be confronted by something beyond comprehension? Relegating the plot, perhaps the characters echo of redemption. I am again to be disheartened. The characters were the embodiment of stereotypes. Miles (stereotypical nerd) who leaves for boarding school only to search for his "Great Perhaps". What is surprising however is that Miles forgets this Great Perhaps of his only to reemerge in the last parts. One can hardly argue that his stay was his Great Perhaps, as the stereotypical nerd, he gets pushed and nicknamed Pudge, (where's any hint of a Great Perhaps?) with no attempt ror what so ever of shaking off occurred, in the contrary, Miles subdued himself to it, he pays for Colonel's cigarettes, and is of course forever chided by Alaska. Colonel (stereotype of a cool friend who strives because of a definitive family background). Alaska as the stereotype of the hot and smart girl who I guess Green envisioned to be near perfect in light of his feminism (who doesn't ever go beyond the pseudo-feminist bickering), a roomful of books and precal tutorials. So everybody likes her, but hell, you can't have her because once you thought so she'll start spouting that she's oh so loyal, right after making out with her.

Miles lost any redemption towards his Great Escape, something the author conventionally concludes through their predicament of "looking for Alaska". And if to add insult to injury, they never really did find Alaska, emphatically that is, did they?

The appeal is easy to see. The character's are in a school, no less of a boarding school, and yet they have access to booze, sex, and smoke. They can carry out any prank with little injury. So I guess Green cast his characters in a mold embossed with intelligence, love for learning and books not only to offset, but to some extent justify, what his characters do. Who would, from the young (who want to experience such), the YA (who are experiencing such), and the young once (who have experienced such), not get caught up in such a subjectively pleasing read?

So yeah, we give in to the occasional emotional torrent to which the work's success must have been anchored. We give in to the dreaded  effects of bullying, to the alienation, to the incomparable feeling of first love or lust, whether it be real or not, and to lost love, to chasing ghosts. We give in  to the pursuit of redemption, of Looking for Alaska through pulling the best imaginable prank ever in Culvert history. After all there is something somewhere to which we can relate to what Green has written, however minuscule or insubstantial that is.

I guess, if I were a teenager, I would have given it a 4 or even a 5. I admit I liked Mile's devotion to last words (got me curious to a great extent I'll be picking up a book on this), but somehow, the prank they pulled off was seemingly anti-climatic. I expected something more. Or then again, I am totally in the wrong for every word in this review, after all, it is American culture Green is writing into.

addendum
In an attempt dictated by convenience and compelled by the material, I have somehow visualized this review.

not viewable, here's the <a href="http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/856/40020854.jpg"> link </a>
**i dread repeating words, which in this case is not only fitting but inevitable  in lieu of the indistinctness of the plot.

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