Thursday 5 March 2015

Looking For Alaska: John Green | Review | FTM

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

- Goodreads Synopsis

This Review Will Contain SPOILERS

I had been wanting to read Looking For Alaska by: John Green for about a year, the only book I had read by John was the famous The Fault in our Stars. Like many others, I enjoyed it but I will admit I did not cry when Augustus Waters died, in fact I cried during the letter but while reading the letter it occurred to me that I had not shed a tear yet, wasn't it supposed to be a 'tear jerker'? Yes, my eyes were getting watery as I read the letter but I wasn't balling my eyes out so I basically forced myself to cry. There I said it, I forced myself to cry. John Green is very well known for his works to be terribly heartbreaking and yes, I can agree on that factor because some of his books do deal with serious situations that can be quite sad. Since this reputation has been built about John Green, everyone has been saying that every single one of his books will make you cry, especially this one. Just because a character dies does not mean that it will enable you to cry, and all the comments that I have been seeing is that I cried because this person died and that's it. That's the only reason behind it. In order for me to cry or tear, it has to have great storytelling that allows me to connect with the characters so I can feel something for the characters. Relating with characters is such a major factor in books and with Looking for Alaska I couldn't do that. 

John Green is an excellent writer and there is no argument there, however his writing is very mature and dense, ever since The Fault in the Stars I have noticed that the characters, these teenage characters act like knowledgeable adults. They all speak so clean, crisp and mature. Never in my life have I come across one teenager who talked so much like an adult. I mean they're so posh. It's not realistic in my eyes and I understand that this is fiction but it's just something that bugs me because I cannot relate or connect.

Another factor that I realized between the two John Green books that I've read is that there isn't really a separation from his other characters. They all seem to have similar qualities. For example, the parent figures, they all seem incredibly supportive that it's a little over the top, sometimes they seem like robots because they only have one emotion and that's happiness, again the realistic aspect is missing. 

Speaking of similar characters, the teenage characters all have the same voice. Again I am going back to the too posh speaking aspect and the realism. Whether the characters were male or female, I found similarities between Miles and Hazel Grace. Obviously I do realize that these books are written by the same author but it seems like the characters are exactly the same but they're in a different story and have different names.

Also it seems like every character in John's books has an interest in literature. They seem to always be quoting famous writers or poets. Even the characters who are supposed to be "the dumb jock" really seem to be in touch with classic literature. I didn't really dislike this factor I just found it so interesting that everyone is just so interested in those kind of things. You can sometimes find characters that read a lot but rarely anyone who is quoting Edgar Allen Poe in every single one of their conversations.

Even though I did have some annoyance with the characters and realism, there were some points that I found a little bit ironic. There were little points in the book where it'd make you think of Johns past/future books. It would kind of make you think, "Oh did he already have an idea for that book or is this just a coincidence." For example, the use of cigarettes was constantly mentioned and it would just make me think of The Fault in Our Stars. I know smoking is a big deal in this book but the way it was told just made me connect those two books.

The only character in this book that really got me interested in this book was Alaska herself, not Miles. She was very different from the others, with the others I felt like I already knew who they were. You could say Alaska was one of the only reasons why I kept on reading this book just because there was a slight difference between her and the others.

What I did not expect this book to be was a love story. I had not read the synopsis and expected this story to be told through Alaska's eyes and the only other thing that I knew was that she smoked quite often. I was a little shocked when Miles said that he was attracted/falling for Alaska. I don't know how I felt about this aspect of the book, I expected this book to be a coming of an age story and it wasn't. I guess you could say I was disappointed because I expected something much more then just a love story.

However, besides the love story aspect friendship played a great deal in this book. It was definitely a unique and different friendship even if it wasn't reflected on much. Their friendship was another aspect that kept me reading.

This book to me had no real storyline besides the love story, there was no conflict it was just Miles falling in love with Alaska. I think the reason why I have such a big problem with this part of the story is because it wasn't marketed as a love story really. The only thing people told me was that Alaska had a horrible problem with smoking and some of her other problems. I also thought this book was going to be completely based on Alaska which I was clearly wrong because I was a little mislead, that is my fault however because I didn't do any research on this book whatsoever which I don't want to do. I like going into books empty minded and my mind thought this book was going to just be about Alaska. It's a little misleading if you don't read the synopsis considering the title and the puff of smoke on the cover. I'm probably only saying this because this is why I was mislead and I thought it was a coming an age of story, I mean it would make sense. For the first few pages/chapters I thought it was from Alaska's POV...

While reading this I pictured one face and once face alone. It was Kaya Scodelario as Alaska. You may know her from playing Teresa in The Maze Runner. I would always see fan edits of her as Alaska, and now that I have read the book I can see why people like her and see her as Alaska. If this were to ever be turned into a film, I would really like to see her as Alaska.

So to the part where Alaska dies. I honestly did not feel much when she died. I did like the idea of the countdown but to me it just felt like it was put onto us way too quickly. I guess I didn't feel anything because of the lack of connection. 

One of the things that really bothered me while reading comments on reviews for this book was that people who have also read the book have been complaining. They seem sad because they didn't cry when Alaska died, I said it in the beginning and I will say it again. When a character dies in a book it does mean it will enable you to cry. In fact I cried more in Clockwork Prince by: Cassandra Clare then any other John Green book I've read. It's just how it is told and how it's presented through words.

Overall, I wouldn't say I hated this book. I had a little bit of a love, hate relationship with this book. I guess you could say I expected so much more from the story. As you can probably tell from what I've said, I've been picking on the characters and the story because those weren't very detailed. This book had more potential I believe, but I understand why it won a printz award. John Green has such a talent for writing and his voice is excellent. I just don't think the story lines that he produces are very different. It's an average storyline where nothing really happens until the end. It was a little hard to enjoy reading this book because I couldn't connect to any of these characters, but it was easier then TFIOS. Would I read this again? Yes. Despite my annoyance with lack of connection and storyline I would read it again because it was enjoyable. Maybe it wasn't my favourite but it's an easy read. So I would rate it a 2.8 out of 5 stars. I hate giving books low ratings but I have to be honest. I just expected so much more from this book and my expectations weren't met. My statements and thoughts in this review may seem very jumbled and may not make sense but that is exactly how I feel, I'm so conflicted with this book and I don't know how to feel.

I hope you enjoyed reading this review! 

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