I’ve wanted to read this novel for a very long time! It’s all over those pretty post pictures on Tumblr and there are comments underneath about how life changing this novel is. Well I finally conformed, gave in and bought ‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green.
In its own right it is a good novel but somehow I do feel that it might split opinions. Like Marmite you either like it or you don’t. The narrative voice created in this novel reminds me of Haulden Caufield (Catcher in the Rye), it’s a very honest, raw, interpretation of messy minded teenagers (every teenager then).
Miles Halter the boy searching for his ‘Great Perhaps’ and along the way he finds Alaska Young, the mysterious, condescending girl who preaches about values of feminism but has this deep preserved self hate inside of her. Alaska Young is well, Alaska Young. She’s tormented by her own values and throughout the novel we see that she puts people in their places but whilst doing that we see that she’s reminding and putting herself in place too. She’s a self tortured being who has strong values but hates herself and so she dismisses those good strong values.
The novel is just so REAL and the characters are perfectly selected and put together. They may not be the coolest kids on campus but they create an acceptance for each other. Every movement that takes place, as a reader you feel very involved and interactive with the novel.
Towards the end of the novel the repeated phrase: ‘How do you get out of the labyrinth of suffering?‘ and that is why I actually do really like this novel. It’s not just one of those stupid young adult fiction novels that presents an unrealistic interpretation of dealing with pain, growing up, teenage life, changes, death, drugs and finding yourself as a teenager, as a person even it appreciates living in the moment and all the hiccups life throws at you.
Why I liked this novel:
Amongst the many other reasons, another reason why I did like this novel was because in the second section of it (spoiler alert, PLEASE don’t read on if you are currently reading or intend on reading the novel) when Alaska dies it just feels real. It feels like a real person died and the way her death is portrayed through the characters and her influence on the plot is all representative of that. The sadness isn’t ignored or Disney-fied, the pain and complete shock of Alaska’s death is captured perfectly. Even though Pudge (Miles Halter) is the narrator, losing Alaska is painful (I know she’s a fictional character but trust me on this one yeah?).
I like how her death is presented in a realistic manner because it shows the complicated humans and their complicated emotions that get left behind and this is the type of novel everyone should read because (no offence) to the vampires and I love the wizards but the death of Alaska is a catalyst for a lot of things one of those being, breaking readers hearts (you have been warned).
It might get a little tiring to read but stick with it, you won’t regret it in the end and try to look beyond the lines on the paper. Throughout the first section of the novel there is a count down to Alaska’s death and then the second section is counting the days since her death. Weirdly enough this caused me much anxiety and I ended up finishing the novel the same day I started it because I had to know what was being counted down (OCD much?!).
I shall leave you with one of my favourite quotes from the book: ‘If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.’