12 October 2011

Book Review: Looking for Alaska

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Publisher/Year: Dutton / 2005
Date Finished: 9 October 2011
Source/Format: Library / Print
Book #: 79

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

The Short and Sweet of It
Upon first entering Culver Creek Boarding School, Miles is a friendless gawky teen with a fascination for last words. Soon he is befriended by his roommate, the Colonel, and through him meets Alaska Young, a stunning, intelligent, rebellious prankster. And his life will never be the same.

A Bit of a Ramble
This book makes me think that John Green has a type. Alaska Young reminds me very much of Margo Roth Spiegelman, the main character in another John Green book, Paper Towns, not in details but in impression and feel. Both girls possess that quality expressed in Paper Towns: "Young. Goofy. Infinite." It is that "infinite" quality, that not-quite-of-this-world characteristic that defines Alaska and Margo. They are mysteries, ever-evolving ouroboros who are bent on boundless renewal and simultaneous self-destruction, beings with bottomless joie de vivre and abject depression. Bi-polar perfection.

What makes this type of person so intriguing? In my opinion, it is that they make you live. Truly live. In the moment. Without fear. At the same time, I honestly believe they are only healthy for a person in the world of literature. These are the type of girls that can really fuck you up.

This is my third John Green book after Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines. Actually, I guess this is my fourth as I also read will grayson, will grayson which he co-authored with David Levithan. I can safely say that I really enjoy his style, his characters, and his stories. If you have not yet read a Green, go do so. Now.

So many reviews have been written about this book that I feel pretty safe in leaving my totally insightful insights to the above paragraphs. Now I want to focus on Things This Book Made Me Want to Do:

Read The Oxford Book of Death: "The inescapable reality of death has given rise to much of literature's most profound and moving work. D.J. Enright's wonderfully eclectic selection presents the words of poet and novelist, scientist and philosopher, mystic and sceptic. And alongside these "professional" writers, he allows the voices of ordinary people to be heard; for this is a subject on which there are no real experts and wisdom lies in many unexpected places." Last words and other perspectives on death? Sounds like good reading.

Drink until my blood alcohol reaches .24: Okay, so this one will probably never happen (or at least it won't happen until baby is no longer squatting in my uterus), but I did find myself quite curious as to how drunk one is at .24....

Bury something in secret: The "something" in the book is alcohol, but I'm leaving my options open since I'm not a big drinker (even when not pregnant). I just like the idea of burying something no one knows about but me.

I fully intend on fulfilling the first and the last, but the middle? Eh. Maybe I'll convince someone else to get that drunk - which probably wouldn't be a problem for me. What would be a problem is getting my hands on a breathalyzer. Not quite sure how to go about doing that...

Any ideas?

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  1. I think .24 is something close to death isn't it? Maybe just hang out at a twenty-something dance club and observe would be safer! This is one of the books that Emma and I have in the house. I know I need to get on the John Green bandwagon.

  2. When I was in high school I was very much into burying things for closure. But then I would eventually dig it back up months later. I think you should totally bury something. Burying is fun. Hmm, now I want to go bury something. . .


  3. .24 is pretty much obliterated. You would be pretty drunk. It would definitely be too drunk for a fetus :)

    I have only read Paper Towns but I think I own both of Green's other books so I should read them.

  4. I have never read anything by Green before, and had not heard of this one before reading your review. The characters and situations in this book sound really wild, and now I want to check it out. How can I resist a book that makes you want to bury something? Great review today!

  5. Speaking of burying something secret, here's a funny story: Jason's grandpa was a little bit "off" to be polite. He didn't trust the government at all - to the point of ripping up Jason's dad's call back to active service during the Gulf War, making the Army think he had gone UA when he'd never even known they sent a letter. He especially didn't trust banks, so at one point in his life, he pulled out all his life savings and bought a bunch of junk silver with it. Old dimes and nickels and quarters and stuff, really old kinds. He had something like $25,000 worth of the stuff, and he buried it in barrels all around his many-acre property in Washington. He made a map so that he could find it again, but got paranoid about that so he dug it all up and buried it in new locations that he didn't write down. Then he died.

    That left his widow without any sort of monetary protection. Jason's senior year of high school (which is when his grandpa died), he flew out to Washington with his dad, brother, and a metal detector, where they combed through as much of the property as possible looking for barrels of buried junk silver. They found something like a third of what was buried out there. Some of the property lines were disputed too, so it's possible Grandpa buried it barrels on someone else's land. Later Grandma moved away from the area, and she died last year. Now somewhere out there in rural Washington, there's a multi-thousand-dollar treasure buried...and no one has a clue that it's there except the family, who no longer have the land to keep looking.

    So yeah, if you bury something...just make sure it's not something someone will miss! :D

  6. Love this book--it's the one that first introduced me to the awesomeness that is John Green. I love, love, love how he combines humor with Very Serious Matters. Yeah, I kind of have an author crush on him.

  7. Wow! I love Amanda's story! I thought the burying alcohol part was really interesting. I have no idea what I would bury if I had the chance. Maybe money? ;-)

  8. I wonder how many drinks it would take to get to .24? I'm not preggers, so maybe I can try for the both of us. My bar (and saying I have a bar leads to assumption that I should KNOW what .24 looks like, but truly I don't)..has a breathalyzer installed. I could feasible do this experiment. I just wonder if I'll remember much of that night?!

  9. Um, I just googled it and it looks like I'd have to drink anywhere between 7 - 9 drinks IN AN HOUR! Soooo not gonna happen. Wowzers!

    BTW I heart John Green.

  10. I didn't really like this book … but I'm in the minority. And the things it made you want to do are going to get this book banned! HAHA!

  11. I think I have to red this book now! Not sure how many drinks would it would take to get to .24, but I'm sure the afterwards would not be pretty. love your thoughts!

  12. I had to laugh at the fact that they were burying Strawberry Hill--my beginner beverage of choice. Can't beat $2 a bottle! ;)

    Loved this one. Love John Green. Not as much as others, but like love, I guess.

  13. I loved this one. It was my very first John Green novel and I was just so surprised by it.

  14. http://lorxiebookreviews.blogspot.com/2012/05/looking-for-alaska-by-john-green.html i love JOHN GREEN :) have a nice day!


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