Looking for Alaska by John Green

looking for alaska

The Alaska in this novel is a teenage girl. Our protagonist, Miles, decides that he wants to go to boarding school to seek “the Great Perhaps” – to have new experiences and meet new people. He makes some cool friends and one of them is Alaska, who he quickly falls in love with. Actually, everything happens pretty quickly because the novel is 220 pages long. It is aimed at young adults, and maybe that is because they all have such short attention spans these days.

I quite liked it, but I read it because The Fault in Our Stars was such a work of beauty, so maybe my expectations were too high and I did not love it. There’s rather a lot of sex and swearing and drinking in this book. I know there is a lot of those things in the average teenager’s life, too, but I don’t see it too much in the books aimed at them, by the time I was this age I had moved on to adult books, as I expect most kids have, so maybe it’s the younger ones that are reading this stuff.

I liked it, but I wonder if he was trying to tackle too much in too short a time. The characters are difficult to believe when I think of what myself and my friends were like at that age.

Miles likes to learn famous figures from history’s last words, so the book is peppered with them. Alaska likes poetry and novels, and they discuss Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s beautiful The General in his Labyrinth. In it, a fictionalised Simon Bolivar says “how will I ever get out of this labyrinth?” (of suffering – ie life). And this rather over-dramatic and depressive teen discusses this idea throughout the book (because she’s seen so much pain, at seventeen or so at a posh school, yeah, right). This, along with a little religious instruction from Green / a teacher we are guided through a crash course in life, death, the universe and everything. Did I mention that it’s 220 pages long?

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