Mariel's Reviews > Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska by John Green
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's review
Apr 05, 2011

liked it
Recommended to Mariel by: exit does not exist
Recommended for: workin' on leavin' the livin'
Read from April 04 to 05, 2011

What was I doing reading John Green's Looking for Alaska when I famously (coughs) despised large parts of the author's An Abundance of Katherines? (I'm emulating Miles here. Wait, I already talk like that!) 1. I disliked it enough to feel mean and want to give John Green another shot before writing him off forever as a potential book friend. 2. It was super cheap in the closing local Borders. 3. I'm not that original about selecting books. 4. What else are the late hours of the night for if not reading? 5. I wasn't liking much the books I was plumbing through. Looking for Alaska is, if nothing else, readable. Rot & Ruin? Not so much. I wonder how long teen books about boy characters will benefit from my hatred of Rot & Ruin? (Noooo, Mariel, don't! You'll end up having to read another Maberry book. I definitely do not want to read another Maberry book.)

The John Green formula (is this is first book? I'm too lazy to look it up) is at play: Colin (from 'Katherines') had his "eureka" moments modelled after geniuses in history. Miles favors last words of famous dead people. It was a bit too cutesy for me that he ALSO wanted a "great perhaps". Too much emulating, for me. A boy comes to life realizations after a series of events that bring together and then drive apart the young characters. The formula isn't needed for a hook to get into that. However, I did like that John Green wrote about John Adams last words in the afterword. "Thomas Jefferson still lives." He didn't. I only knew about this from an episode of The West Wing (TWW nerds unite!). I like looking into stories about lives because of last words. It didn't really have much to do with Miles's relationships with his friends, though. I guess it was like the comic relief in a Disney film? It's there in case the parents are getting bored...

Colin got under my skin. It depressed me that the whole point was being better than everyone else. Miles and his friends are looking for distraction in each other. Solace, yeah, but mostly distraction. Making shit happen so they won't have to think about what they are really doing (or not doing. It IS a boarding school story). Alaska is a teen girl version of Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I've been coming across a few of these lately. Not that I blame them. I adore Clementine. What Clementine had, and Alaska didn't, is enough of a life outside Miles's perspective. Looking for Alaska is supposed to be about FINDING the girl outside of that. Green didn't quite make it there. I appreciated the sentiments, though. It's like watching a funeral of someone you don't know, to me. It sucks that they are dead. I could probably make up a story to myself about what they were like. I could pull it from abstract sources and get carried away with it. How much of it would be based on me? Miles? There's not enough MILES for that. He's kinda generic teen boy. Maybe that's good for the teens who feel this kinda mutual solace in each other for experiencing those teen things. I don't remember feeling part of a larger group. It was a long time ago, though.

Nice sentiments though. Dreaming of the future to escape the present? Good one, Alaska. I remember thinking those same things about people being energy that just changes form when I was Miles's age. That's the most religious I ever got. I'm sure I felt smart at the time. (Asshole.)

It was cool that Alaska said she smoked to die. Morrissey nod!

Okay, if I'm being honest I did feel an extra dab of sympathy for Miles being a Floridian who moves to Alabama. That was me, once.

I'll probably not read another John Green book. I don't need the distraction of hijinks right now (maybe some other night). It's hard enough going through life trying to patch together some feeling of humankind by wondering what other people go through. I take it on faith that this shit is hard. Now, what the hell was Alaska really thinking? Because I loved her when she didn't want to answer the whats, whens, whys, hows. Me too.

I'm glad that John Green wrote about people who cared about being people for something worth more than being better than other people. It wasn't a waste of time being around them even if I didn't get past the surface we're all in this together stuff. Sentiments are better than beat downs.

P.s. John Green probably loves the film Real Genius. I always used it to embarass my dog. "Where's mama's little soldier!" (um the part where the geek calls home and the evil kids use it to publically humiliate him.) I have no business picking on this stuff...
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Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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Kwesi 章英狮 Great review, haha!

Flannery I love this review, Mariel. If you do read another JG book, don't let it be Paper Towns. The same type of girl is present, being quirky and trying to escape reality. But, it IS set in Florida so maybe you'd enjoy the ridiculing of Orlando's artificiality.

My favorite part of this one was the 'last words' bit. But a compilation of quirks does not a character make. Why did I rate this 5 stars?

Mariel I probably would enjoy mocking Orlando... But I did despise parts of Katherines so maybe I should quit while I'm ahead?

Flannery Probably a good bet. So many books, so little time and all that jazz...

Mariel I want to read everything who am I kidding?

Flannery I just pictured you with crazy eyes going "I WANT AAAAALLLL THE BOOKS."

Now I've moved on to dreaming of being like Scrooge McDuck but swimming in books instead of all that money in the safe from Duck Tales.

Mariel No lie the Scrooge Mcduck money swimming has been my enduring fantasy since childhood.

Kelly I am so fervently thankful (and pretty much in your debt) for you including "connections" in your reviews. I had no idear about 'Spotless Mind.' Will do Sarge!

Stephanie Corrigan incase you ever want to give john green another go hid next books main character is s young girl with cancer. might be different? also will grayson will grayson is not quite the same. but i do agree on some points..

Jennifer Gonzalez You must read fault in our stars it at least is from a teen girls pov so that might be a if ferns read then most of Green's teen boy dialogue.

message 11: by Em (new) - rated it 4 stars

Em "Alaska is a teen girl version of Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." That's because characters like that are an actual trope, known as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl

message 12: by Daniel (new)

Daniel I think your opinion of Colin is universal. But it's intended. Katherines is not told from his perspective. He is a character who is meant to be annoying. Looking for Alaska is actually told from Miles' point of view. Your suggested purpose of Looking for Alaska is to find the girl. But it's not. The point of Alaska's character is that sometimes in life we think of people to be something more than what they really are. After her death, she is portrayed by everyone, even people who didn't know her, as a person that everyone loved all the time. But while she is alive she has very bi-polar tendencies and can be very mean. In our lives we do this often by thinking that a famous person, a significant other, or anyone is more than what they really are, a person. This mistake causes us to be let down with that person appears to be flawed. As for Miles being generic. He is but only from a reader's point of view. He thinks he is very different and struggles to fit in, and this is just how you mentioned you felt at that age. As for continuing John Green reads, The fault in our stars might just take the cake from alaska. I would highly recommend.

Katiee Babolcsay I strongly recommend a fault in our stars if you want to read another John green, I agree with many of your points about this book and I loved a fault in our stars so maybe you might too xx

message 14: by Sarah (new) - rated it 1 star

Sarah Felix I agree with your review wholeheartedly. Except I think I despised AAOK more than you did. This book was a slightly better remake of it and nothing more.

Catherine I agree with a lot of your points :) I would recommend The Fault in Our Stars though if you were up to reading another John Green. (I'm also a big TWW fan btw :P)

message 16: by Allmyink (new) - added it

Allmyink If you ever are going to read something by John Green again I can advice you on reading Will Grayson WillGrayson. It has lot's of humor in it

Mariel That makes me very happy!

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