Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
My Rating: 4.5/5
Miles "Pudge" Halter is abandoning his safe, boring life. Fascinated by the last words of famous people, Pudge leaves for boarding school to seek what a dying Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Pudge becomes encircled by friends whose lives are everything but safe and boring. Their nucleus is razor-sharp, sexy, and self-destructive Alaska, who has perfected the arts of pranking and evading school rules. Pudge falls in love with her. When tragedy strikes the close-knit group, though, it is only in coming face-to-face with his problems that Pudge discovers the value of living and loving unconditionally.
I've read a lot of fiction that is purely there for the story and entertainment purposes. I've also read fiction that addresses important themes and meanings in it's writing. But this is the first fiction book I've read that addresses such important, larger-than-life questions so directly. It probably would've made me cry if I wasn't sitting there thinking in bewilderment about the philosophical questions it brought up.
The main character, Miles 'Pudge', was a character that I think most teenagers who would read this book can relate to. All the characters were believable with no typical stereotyping thankfully. I loved Alaska. I could almost feel her spirit radiate from the pages. I really felt for all of them.
The first half of the book, the 'before' is funny, witty, clever and highly entertaining. I laughed out loud at points, and cringed at others. The second half, the 'after' grows very somber. And although it's still entertaining and the pace doesn't lack, this is the point where it grows deep and addresses the important questions I mentioned earlier.
I've always been very interested in Philosophy, and I think way too much about issues, including, 'Why are we here?' and 'Where do we go when we die?'. This book addresses these questions head-on and I think that's why I loved it so much. It actually had me re-thinking some of my beliefs. It's definitely going to stay in my heart for a long time.
Here's a couple quotes from near the end that I wanted to share:
"I still think that sometimes, think that maybe 'the afterlife' is just something we made up to ease the pain of loss, to make our time in the labyrinth bearable."
"When adults say 'Teenager's think they are invincible', with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don't know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail."