Book Review: Looking for Alaska

I picked up Looking for Alaska by John Green after reading a post on Nathan Bradford’s blog about how amazing this book was.  I was curious to see what it was about this book agent Bradford found so compelling.  This book review has spoilers – there is no other way to write this one – you have been warned!

The first 133 pages of the book I was completely confused.  Why was it that Bradford thought this novel was so amazing? For me, it read just like another regular coming of age story about a bunch of rich kids attending a unisex (how convenient), boarding school in the South.  And yes, Green’s voice is witty and smart.

There’s drinking, smoking, and of course…the classic “pranks.” The chapters in the first 133 pages are titled with a countdown method (136 days before, 120 days before 90 days before…etc), and the last 100 pages are titled 2 days after, 10 days after…etc. This method creates a much needed tension in the read of the first half of the book, which although well written, is a bit slow and the characters can be obnoxious at times.  I have never seen a smarter crew of teens in YA literature – it’s like they were 15 going on 35. They really don’t sound like teens at all.  They quoted a variety of writers / philosophers among them Garcia Marquez and Francois Rabelais – but at the same time they played video games (which seemed almost odd for their characters), and broke out in verse rapping a capella.

Right when I was getting a little sick and tired of these “rebel teens without a cause” – bang.  Green hits me with the “after.”  The main protagonist’s biggest crush – a girl named Alaska with a chip on her shoulder – dies a horrible death in a drunk driving accident minutes after Miles, the main character, had finally kissed her (hot and heavily).

The rest of the book consists of all the friends coping with Alaska’s untimely death and figuring if it was a suicide or an accident (Alaska was a bit unstable at times on account of feeling responsible for her mother’s also untimely death, when Alaska was only 8).

To recap my book review…I just don’t know how I feel.  I have never felt this way about a book before, and I am not sure if that is a good thing, or a bad thing.  Looking for Alaska was like making out with a really handsome guy with no teeth and bad breath.  The book certainly stayed with me, and after reading it, I almost couldn’t fall asleep thinking about Alaska and the terrible accident, wanting to help her, divert her from getting in the car.

This book definitely will stay with me a long time – even if the feelings it left me with are unidentifiable…like winning the lottery and then hanging yourself right afterwards.  Brrr….creepy.

Due to the nature of this book, I am going to do something I’ve never done with any other book review.  As far as how many magic wands it deserves…I am afraid I just don’t know how to rate it.  It’s in a class of its own – rating it would not do it justice.

To read more about John Green click here

To follow Nathan Bradford’s blog click here

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