Google+ Reading Teen: Looking For Alaska by John Green: Thoughts

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Looking For Alaska by John Green: Thoughts



Looking For Alaska
by John Green
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Speak (December 28, 2006)
Buy the Book: Amazon
Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green's arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.
Thoughts:

This isn't really a review, since most have you have either already read this book, or decided that you'll probably never get to it, but I thought I'd post my thoughts anyway.

I know this is a favorite for so many people, but it just wasn't for me.  We read this book for our Forbidden Book Club last month, and I found myself having to be forced to read it.  Why?  Was the writing bad?  No, really, not at all.  Obviously it connects with so many people.  I think that I've just come to the conclusion that I don't want to be sad.  And this book is sad, in too many ways.  I get SO frustrated when I read books like this.  Books where the characters are SO infuriating and screwed up.  And I don't feel like anyone is any better off in the end of the book than they were in the beginning.  I know it's supposed to be realistic, and that's fine, I just don't want to spend my time reading it.  It makes me sad and angry and leaves me feeling helpless to change anything.

I just don't like it.

I could get into specifics, like the fact that Miles (nicknamed Pudge....barf) was a pretty sad and pathetic puppy dog, following Alaska around begging to be pet.  Or how Alaska was portrayed as every guy's dream girl, because she was crude, unthoughtful, unattainable, and talked about sex like it was nothing (wow, I can tell this book was written by a guy).  Or about how when the "after" finally came, I just wanted to cry, and I hate crying.  And let me just mention that I'm a girl....so no, I don't want to read about......a guy.....doing.....that.  Gross. 

So, I guess my question is this.  Is this (Alaska) really what guys are looking for?  What is it about this book that you liked?  And, if this book didn't work for me, should I read The Fault in Our Stars?  It's sitting on my shelf, staring at me.

This rating is a reflection of my taste, not of the writing

P.S.  I still think John Green is very talented and does amazing things for YA.  Just because I don't like the book doesn't mean I don't like and appreciate him.  See....here's me and his van.....

 

Content:
  • Sexual Content:  Very Heavy
  • Profanity:   Very Heavy
  • Violence:  Mild
  • Other Notables:  Heavy underage drinking, death, possible suicide
For more details, check out Looking For Alaska on Parentalbookreviews.com

30 comments:

  1. I am so with you on this one- I have been so wishy washy about TFiOS because of Looking for Alaska- glad to see I'm not the only one.

    To be honest, I read to escape my life ha ha- I don't want to read about how depressing someone else's life is- I want to feel GOOD after reading a book....

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    1. UGH YES!!!! That is exactly what I say! Books don't even have to be happy, necessarily, I mean I like Divergent/Article 5, but I want an escape, and to feel some hope!

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  2. I liked this book. I'm not over the top crazy about it like some, though. I can appreciate it for what it is. I understand what you are saying. Sometimes "realistic" involves things we don't want to read about.

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    1. Yeah, that's me. I know it's realistic (somewhat), but I don't really care. I want to be lost in another world, not drowning in this one. My mom loves books like this. Wonder what happened to me! haha

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  3. I'm really sorta glad that even though the club was reading this one that I stopped. I was bored with the pages I did read and I didn't like anyh of the characters. I like when books can give you a realistic look but I just don't think Alaska is who we should be telling guys to like. I'm really skeptical about Green, even more so now that I read part of this book.

    I hope you like other books by him.

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    1. That's so true! And I'm even MORE concerned with what he's telling girls that guys want! I sure hope girls don't think they need to act like Alaska to be appealing! UGH.

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  4. Hmm, well I can agree with a lot of what you said, Alaska annoyed the crap out of me. I couldn't have had a friend like her in high school because her arrogance and thoughtlessness would've been too much for me.
    That said, I loved the book, because I loved how real it felt. I love the Colonel's frankness, how he's alternatively cutting and truely protective of his friends, he made the book for me.
    To your question: if Alaska is what guys are looking for I'm in trouble. My guy friends call me 'Lady' or 'Little Miss Perfect' so I think that says it all.
    I think even if this book didn't work for you, you should give the Fault in Our Stars a shot. Sometimes I find that I like a particular author's books sporadically, loving one and bored or disliking the other. Hope you enjoy it!

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    1. Oh, yes, I do have to admit that I really liked the Colonel! He was pretty awesome. And didn't seem too starstruck by Alaska, haha.

      I may still try TFioS, but I'll definitely go into it braced for impact. :P

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  5. I think the big appeal with John Green is is the writing itself. The way he phrases things and strings thoughts together. Just reading something he's written, you can tell how smart he is. There were definitely a lot of things about this book that weren't for me (which is why when the group voted to read it, I wasn't about to read it again), but it's not going to keep me from reading his other works (I haven't yet, though if you don't want to be sad, you probably shouldn't read TFIOS....).

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  6. The Fault in Our Stars is NOTHING like Looking for Alaska. Yes, it is sad, but there's so much happy in it, and it's funny and entertaining and life changing. You would love it.

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  7. I started this with the club but stopped after the first 5 chapters. I wasn't the least bit interested in carrying on with the book, and the story just wasn't my type. The fact that no one turned up to his leaving do at the beginning of the book was depressing enough for me.
    Meh, I'm glad I didn't miss out on much. This review reminds me of the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower. For a book that's said to be awesome it gave me a few laughs here and there but ended up being woah-depressing. Dude.

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  8. This is why I haven't read any book by John Green. I don't like sad books at all, so I know I won't like his books.

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  9. I have tried to read his books and realized that I do like him but don't like sad books. I agree that I want to escape , but I do realize that life happens and those stories need to told.

    *** I think if an author writes a certain genre then I will always think them in that area. Like DuFF , and Sweetly are stories by different authors but I will always think thats all that they write. I hope that makes sense.

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  10. I read LFA. I liked it. True, I'm a guy, and that might explain things, given what you said.

    That said, John Green is a leader in using social media to promote his brand. In a fun, honest way. Maybe hopping on board might affect your view of his works.

    Have fun!

    Oh yes, recently I recommended readingteen.net to a teacher looking for an example of teens using a blog for something fun and constructive.

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    1. Haha, yes, I know who John Green is, and he does a fantastic job promoting and using all types of social media, and he's an amazing advocate for YA (see picture above). I like him. This just isn't my type of book. I'm still considering trying TFioS, and seeing how that goes though.

      Thanks so much for promoting us! That's awesome! I hope we can continue to encourage teens to blog about books, and whatever they're passionate about! :D

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  11. I've only read one John Green book, Paper Towns. Actually it was an audio book and was told from the male pov. It was funny. I laughed out loud at some of the stuff. But it wasn't all funny. It was realistic. He writes contemporary books and that's probably just not your thing. But The Fault in Our Stars, should not be judged on Looking for Alaska. I've read a few pages and even though it was talking about a tough subject I was laughing. Even my 12 year old laughed when I read it to him. I know there are going to be sad parts. Reading the synopsis, I know there will be. But I like the way he writes.

    I'm not so sure about Looking for Alaska. I have it, but it doesn't sound like my kind of story. But every book an author writes isn't going to resonate with us. It's okay if you don't like John Green. You might like him when you're older, you may never like him. Plenty of other books to read. Don't worry about it. You should never force yourself to read a book you don't like no matter how good everyone thinks the writer is. You'll never see me reading a Faulkner book, not even if my life depended on it!

    Heather
    Safe Libraries is right though, he's funny on his blog. And very much an advocate for YA and reading.

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    1. Well, I doubt getting older will help too much, since I'm 35...but you never know! haha My mom actually loves this type of book and she's 59, so I guess it's possible.

      I started Paper Towns audio, and thought it was pretty good (witty) but I had to return it to the library before I had a chance to finish it. It's still just not the type of book I'm drawn to.

      And yeah, I'm familiar w/ John Green and all his many endeavors, I've actually met him a couple of times, and he's very nice and funny. I'll probably still give TFioS a try, I've heard such amazing things about it.

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  12. I read Looking for Alaska. Good book, helped me write a paper for my YA lit class.
    But I am SO SO happy I read FIOS. It will be a book that stays with me forever. Give it a shot, then post your review! Can't wait to read what you thought.

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    1. Ok, I think I'm convinced to still give TFioS a try. I'll definitely review it if I do. If not, I'll make my mom read it! She loves those types of stories!

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  13. TFiOS was my first John Green book ever and I LOVED it, Andye. Definitely read it--- give it a chance--- even if you hate crying. It's a beautiful book and I'd recommend it to anyone, if that helps in your decision. The thing I'm realizing about his stories is that they're all so separate, very individual, you know? And though I don't know if or when I'm going to read another book of his, I do know I will read TFiOS again, and again, and again. I laughed more than I cried, thought more than I agreed, and found hope amid the seemingly hopeless--- basically, it was AWESOME and it's better to read it and KNOW how you feel about it, than to not and assume it wasn't the one for you.

    Anywho, that's my say because you guys recommend so many of the books I end up reading. Thought I'd return the favor.

    Wishing you well,
    Deserae

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    1. WOW, that is the most compelling argument ever! Ok, you seriously have convinced me. I will try it. I'm actually listening to Graffiti Moon right now and enjoying it. You should try that one! :D

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  14. What is wonderful about John Green is that each book is different from the last. Looking For Alaska was good but it was dark and overly serious and very frustrating. At least for me. And if you ever hear John Green talk about LFA you will find that there is a lot about it that he no longer likes or agrees with. It was his first novel and his stories have only approved.

    And they are not all serious. An Abundance of Katherines is full of slapstick comedy. I would venture to say guys would like it more than girls but I am a 30-something mother of two and I really enjoyed it :-)


    As for TFIOS....That book will make you laugh and sob all in the same page.

    John Green is extremely intelligent and I personally love that he uses that intelligence to challenge teens.

    So long story short...I totally understand your feelings about LFA but I wouldn't let that hold you back on reading other John Green books.

    Nat

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    1. Thanks, Nat! I'm being more and more convinced. I guess I just heard so many people talk about how sad it was, and that scared me off. But, I'm really convinced that I should try TFioS. I have it on my shelf, and I'm picking it up now! :D

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  15. i think that it is very, very important to read books that are real. sometimes life is screwed up and weird and people die and all sorts of terrible, awful things occur. and books like Looking for Alaska, show the truth. They show reality and reality is not always so wonderful and daisies and roses. Personally, I love books like this because they make me think. No human is going to be happy all the time. Life. Is. Not. Perfect. But that's not why everyone reads. They read because they prefer to read escapist novels and while those are fun, they're not real. While, yes, it is more complicated than that (isn't everything?) this is the general basic. If you want escapist, a book that doesn't show the truth, read Twilight. Not LFA.

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  16. Ok guys!!! I read The Fault in our Stars and I absolutely love it! It's still not a book that I would just pick up and read on my own, because I just really don't like being sad...haha. BUT, the book was really amazing!!

    Thanks for forcing me to read it.

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  17. 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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  18. TFiOS is very different so you should give it ago. Personally I prefer this one, it was much more entertaining for me. I liked the pranks and the revenge and I loved the quiet outcast character of Miles. Alaska was mildly annoying in places but she is so much more than what you described above.

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    1. Hey Emma-Jane! Thanks for your comment! I know you're right, but this book, and Alaska, just wasn't something I connected with. HOWEVER, I did read TFioS and I really loved it! I'm glad there are so many different types of books out there for all the different types of people! :)

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  19. Although "Looking for Alaska" has some rather, explicit, scenes, it still has a positive message. You might think that this book is just about sex and drugs, but its more than that. It teaches many life lessons, and the value of poetry, reading, and literature. Its a romance novel, that was beautifully written. So I think if you are a mature enough (like me), you can read this by the time your 12 years old.

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