Looking for Alaska by John Green

When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.
Looking For Alaska by John Green

Yes, I’m the idiot who didn’t pick up this title when it was a Gem of the Month book at Kino (chosen by Kit of the flawless taste). When I read the synopsis, I thought, sounds like a good book, but not like a ‘me’ book. Now I wonder, why did I ever think that? This book is definitely as precious to me as Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. (Not that they remind me of each other, just that they are equally important to me, personally) I don’t think I can talk about the plot so much, because I went into this book without really knowing much about it (having forgotten what I read in the old GotM write-up) and in the end I thought it was the best way to read this book. Basically the protagonist is a boy named Miles, nicknamed Pudge, who likes to memorise people’s last words. (I don’t memorise them, but I’ve always found last words interesting.) At the beginning of the book, he goes to boarding school in search of “the Great Perhaps.” He befriends a group of kids I wish I went to high school with, including Alaska Young, who changes his life. The story is told in two parts, “before” and “after” an event that changes all the characters in the book. This is about how much I’m able to say, which I know isn’t much at all. But trust me. It’s better to read this not knowing.

I love how John Green writes, how this book is really humorous and sad at the same time. I love the references to other literary works – the scene about Moby Dick really made me laugh, and I loved that after Miles/Pudge introduces himself to his new roommate, the roommate (Chip/The Colonel) asked, “as in ‘to go before I sleep’?” I love how John Green made me wish I’ve read Gabriel Garcia Marquez, especially The General and His Labyrinth, which is Alaska’s favourite book. I love that Miles and Alaska read Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle together. I love how Miles’ emotion come across as very real, and that Alaska reminds me a little of a girl I used to know. And I know that I’ve said this before about An Abundance of Katherines, but I really, really, love how John Green’s characters are really smart – people very much like the kind I wish I knew in high school, and thankfully people like the kind I know at work now. I love that it is the one of the most heart-wrenchingly beautiful stories I’ve read in a while, and also that it reminds me a lot of my high school/college days. I love how it deals with the subject of loneliness and melancholy and longing and grief, and I love how it portrays the friendship between Miles, the Colonel, and Alaska. I love Takumi’s rapping and the Colonel’s cheers during basketball games. There are many more reasons why I love this book, but more than half of them are spoilers and I don’t know if I could be coherent about the rest, so I will just say that you have to read this book. Period.

Right after finishing this I picked up John Green’s Paper Towns, and while I’m still at the earlier chapters I can say that (1) Paper Towns hooked me from the first paragraph, and (2) John Green is now one of my favourite writers, ever.

Favourite Quotes:

[Cheer during basketball game]: “Cornbread! CHICKEN! Rice! PEAS! WE GOT HIGHER SATs. Hip Hip Hip Hooray! YOU’LL BE WORKIN’ FOR US SOMEDAY!”

[Rap by Alaska]: “Oh shit did you just diss the feminine gender / I’ll pummel your ass then stick you in a blender / You think I like Tori and Ani so I can’t rhyme / but I got glow like Ghostbusters got slime / objectify women and it’s fuckin’ on / you’ll be dead and gone like ancient Babylon.”

“Y’all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die.”

“So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”

“You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”

~ originally posted on livejournal


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