**spoiler alert** Whoa. That was one dark book, and what follows here is my rambling attempt to capture my thoughts about it and the subjects it cover...more**spoiler alert** Whoa. That was one dark book, and what follows here is my rambling attempt to capture my thoughts about it and the subjects it covers. It's really not a review at all; more of a journal, but this seemed as good a place as any to write.
It felt like reading Sartre, set in modern-day Alabama. The cover (smoke rising and dissipating) is really appropriate because (as I read it) the main conclusion of the book is that life is short, it can end really quickly and senselessly, and we really really don't know what happens after this life.
In some places it sounded like Miles (and Green) doesn't believe there is anything after this life--he says "you can't burn something that doesn't exist" (in response to the story about the woman who was trying to destroy heaven and hell so that people would believe in God for his own sake--I appreciate the point that God is so awesome that we should seek him on his own merits, but I think heaven and hell should be taken seriously). And yet, the book ends with him saying, "I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful." So either Green has some hope for more beyond this life, or he just didn't want to finish the book in a super depressing manner.
There were hilarious LOL parts and lots of cleverly worded sentences and especially lots of intricate, believable characters. I can't remember any of the funny parts right now b/c of the depressing parts.
There were parts that really reminded me of Paper Towns. One wonders if there was a girl in Green's life who was really moody and impulsive and came up with great pranks, and befriended him as the hyper-intellectual nerd. (Is that redundant?)
Would I recommend it to anyone? I don't know. People that like intellectual, existential novels and don't mind a lot of drinking, smoking, and some explicit sex, I suppose.
Am I glad I read it? Really, mostly because I had always wanted to read it, because John Green is kind of a hero in these parts, and I enjoyed Paper Towns and Abundance of Katherines, so I knew I would read it someday. It was well written, and it made me think, so yes I'm glad I read it.
Plot points to remember:
--Miles (Pudge) moves to Alabama to the boarding school because he wants to learn more, he is kind of bored with his high school, he wants to "explore the great perhaps." --He bonds very quickly with his roommate, Chip/the Colonel, who's friends with Alaska, who he immediately falls in love with (not in so many words, but really). --Takumi is another close friend. --Lara is the other one in their set. She's from Romania and likes Miles right away. Eventually they hook up for a while and there is a rather funny scene involving a tube of Crest and a tutorial. (Alaska is the expert, so why not ask her?) After Alaska's death, Miles ignores her for a while, but they sort of make up at the end. --Halfway thru the book they find out that Alaska was present at her mom's death; she died of an aneurysm (I think) and Alaska's dad asked why she didn't call 911--she was 8. She apparently lived the rest of her life in that shadow. --The 2nd half of the book consists of them trying to figure out the details of Alaska's death. They piece together--she was very drunk, she was talking to Jake her boyfriend (about whom we know very little), she remembered she forgot her mom's death anniversary so she took flowers and drove away, then she drove into a cop car near a jackknifed semi. It proves impossible to figure out if it was intentional on her part or not. --One wonders why they didn't have cell phones. Or maybe it was mentioned and I forgot. --Their religion teacher is very old but asks some interesting questions and gives them really interesting essay/exam questions to work through. --At the end they pull the Alaska Young Memorial prank, which involves a male stripper posing as a psychologist speaking at Speaker Day to "subvert the patriarchal paradigm." --They eat "bufriedos"--fried burritos. --And, in the words of the immortal Lily (Kevin Henkes), "Wow. That's all I have to say about that. Wow."
Summary of the book from goodreads:
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.(less)
I put off reading this battle book for last because of its length and complexity, but oh! I so enjoyed reading it once I did! It won the Newbery for a...moreI put off reading this battle book for last because of its length and complexity, but oh! I so enjoyed reading it once I did! It won the Newbery for a reason. It is really an exciting story full of dragons, kings, lost crowns, suspected witchcraft, powerful herbal ointments, and lots of human drama all the way through. I'm sure I got more out of it this time than when I read it 20 years ago. :) I'd be curious to know if any boys enjoy this book.(less)
**spoiler alert** Beaver has lost his hat. He asks multiple animals for it, then realizes he has seen it--on the rabbit. Rather sinisterly, it ends, "...more**spoiler alert** Beaver has lost his hat. He asks multiple animals for it, then realizes he has seen it--on the rabbit. Rather sinisterly, it ends, "I haven't seen any rabbits anywhere"...
Perfect for beginning readers who are little more mature.(less)
Danielle's lovely blog post reads: "Apparently in Jon Klassen's world, it is very hard for animals to keep track of hats. In this dark companion to I...moreDanielle's lovely blog post reads: "Apparently in Jon Klassen's world, it is very hard for animals to keep track of hats. In this dark companion to I Want My Hat Back, we meet a small fish who has stolen a hat. He has decided to escape to the place where plants grow close together, so he can be safe. However, as the reader follows the illustrations, they may think differently..."