Retro Friday Review : Looking for Alaska
Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time!
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Looking for Alaska by John Green
Pages : 221
Genre : YA, Fiction
My Rating :
From the author’s website :
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.
My Thoughts :
I read Looking for Alaska in June 2009, for my first participation in the 48h Book challenge (and I will be participating again this year; to join the fun, visit Mother Reader!) I never got around to review it : I had loved the book, yet finished it in a state of such tiredness that I didn’t feel I could give it the review it deserved. Angieville’s Retro Friday meme seemed like the perfect occasion to do so, as I still have my notes from my first reading but also took the time to reread parts of it. I was surprised by how much I remembered of it : John Green really created unforgettable stories and characters! I am also forever impressed by how Green can get inside the mind of a teenager, yet write in a way that doesn’t feel juvenile.
I have to say, it was definitely a different read from An abundance of Katherines. Not in a bad way : just different. It’s as clever for sure – it is written by John Green, after all – but it also carried a lot more weight, if I can say. I loved every character of the story, and even though I’ve never been a teen boy (obviously), I felt I could understand what Miles was going through. His relationship with Alaska is exactly what a first love would be : a little unsure, a little nervous, but strong, somewhat passionate.
The book is split in two parts, Before and After. The chapters are titled by a countdown : Fifty-one days before, Forty-six days before, etc., and it gives you that nervous feeling that something will happen, something bad. I found it difficult to resist flipping the pages to the After part of the book, to know what happens. The second part of the books has a countdown in reverse, counting the days after. It carried the sense of “going forward despite the event”, and for me it reinforced the idea that there is no magical number of hours or days to get over something, and sometimes you carry it with you forever; you just learn to live with it.
I have to conclude by saying, you can’t go wrong with John Green. Looking for Alaska will make you laugh and break your heart at the same time, and take you through an incredible, unforgettable story.