K.D. Absolutely's Reviews > Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska by John Green
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Aug 04, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: ya, borrowed
Recommended to K.D. by: Aaron Vincent
Read from July 19 to August 03, 2011 , read count: 1

I belong to the generation that enjoyed St. Elmo’s Fire, a 1985 American coming-of-age film that starred the then showbiz newbies, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andre McCarthy and Demi Moore. That was shown here in the Philippines when I was in my first year of working after college and I was able to relate to many of its characters so I watched it twice or thrice. Oh well, I was with my girlfriend then and you know how dark and cold were the theatres during those years when they were not yet inside the malls.

So, now at 47, graying and with joints aching especially during cold mornings, I am just too old to appreciate a story about a bunch of young (college) kids who get into all troubles precisely because they are young. They drink booze, smoke, defy school rules, swear, have free sex and, in their attempt to cover their foolishness, do various kinds of franks towards the school authorities.

I definitely had my share of foolishness when I was at their age. I guess it had something to do with being young – the feeling when you want to assert myself, make a territorial mark between your generation and that of your parent’s or test the extent of their patience (and in so doing test whether they really care or not). Last Sunday, my daughter had an outburst inside the car saying that she did not have a friend at school. My daughter who was very active in school leading the Robotics Team, emceeing school programs, leading the daily prayer as one of the school DJs, being class president for at least two years and playing various kinds of sports during annual intramurals. She said that she felt alone (she is an only child) and she oftentimes ate lunch alone. My wife and I felt sad about her revelations. We thought that she was doing fine as whenever we were in her school, we oftentimes heard many of her fellow students greeting her “hi.” We even joked that she should be the most popular student in school. This was something that I and my wife did not experience when we were in high school as we were low-profile people then and even now in our respective life circles. We advised her to just make the most of what can still be done for the rest of the senior year - probably concentrate with a few friends instead of reaching out to all – as it is just 8 months before graduation. In college, she will probably have a totally new set of friends so she can forge new ties and hope those will be stronger and more lasting. Anyway, friends come and go. Those classmates-friends we had in college tend to stick with us after our school years as we normally land in the same field or industry. Moreover, in the end what really matter are the learnings from each friend we encounter in our lives. Learnings that help us to become better persons as we take our journey in this thing called life.

That’s why I was able to relate to this novel. I could imagine the disappointment Miles “Pudge” Halter felt when nobody but two attended his goodbye party for him. That’s why I could imagine the anxiety he felt facing his own “Great Perhaps” when he made his first step towards the boarding school, Culver Creek. That’s why I felt the pain and suprise when he was thrown off the creek just because he was sharing his room with Chip “The Colonel” Martin. That’s why I understood when Pudge and Chip cried with guilt and sadness with longing and fondness when Alaska Young disappeared from their lives.

This is a novel about being young and what goes with it – emotionally vulnerable, trying to fit in, trying to find one’s place under the sun, trying to face the whole world armed with what little knowledge and strength gained in the first one or two decades of stay on this treacherous yet still beautiful earth.

John Green shows us the generation of today. His characters may not be totally different from the St. Elmo’s buddies I used to relate with. However, this is their time. We had ours. So, let’s step down and give them the stage but keep ourselves at bay to coach if they ask us to. Otherwise, let’s leave them and let them strengthen their wings for them to fly away and fulfill the hearts’ wishes.

Thanks to Dra. Ranee for lending to me her copy of this book!
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Reading Progress

07/19 page 6
3.0% "I hated My Sister's Keeper so I shifted to this right away. Very good intro about a young man who is going to college and during the despedida party, nobody came. Well aside from the two unwanted visitors." 4 comments
07/30 page 156
71.0% "Now Alaska is gone? Where did she go? Why?"
08/02 page 184
83.0% "I wanted to finish this last night so I can return the book to Dra. Ranee but I failed. I fell asleep!" 4 comments
08/03 page 220
100.0% "Done. I am now composing my review in my mind. Not sure of the rating yet ha ha."
02/22 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-37 of 37) (37 new)

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Monique Gave this 4 stars, too! AARON will be really thrilled happy that you gave it such a good review, hehe. ;)

K.D. Absolutely Yes, great minds think alike! I thought of giving this 5 stars but I said why differ? ha ha

Maria nice rev, KD! i didn't like the ending of this book.

Joyzi This review makes me sad, I didn't experience being outcast in school but I experience it at home. I hope your daughter find friends that she can truly belong.

K.D. Absolutely Yes, that was my initial impression. However, during the meet up last night, they explained that it is metaphorical thus meaningful. So, when I was reading this morning, I focused on that - try to find the meaning and it hit me like it may not be the best ending but it is definitely the right ending.

Also discussed last night was the difference between "Looking for Alaska" and "Paper Towns." For me "Paper Towns" is more entertaining, straight-forward and kick-ass. "Looking for Alaska" is more gimmicky (writing, characterizations, etc) but in a sad dramatic way. That's probably the reason why "Alaska" put me to sleep several times I was reading it at night. Something that I did not experience reading about Margo ha ha. Bottom line, I rated them the same: 4 stars.

Joyzi Hindi ko na maalala yung ending waaaaa

Tina KD, Katherines naman next! :)

K.D. Absolutely Oo nga. Pahiram! ha ha. Lahat ng John Green ko, hiram ko lang: Ace (Paper Towns) and Dra. Ranee (Looking for Alaska). Nakakatipid ako ha ha!

Monique I still don't have Katherines either, haha. :D

message 10: by mark (new)

mark monday i LOVE this review, kd. great job!

Diane ϟ [ Lestrange ] being an outcast is not pretty bad. I am when I was elementary and at that time I found my best friends. :)
great review kuya KD though I didnt know the St. Elmo’s Fire thing. hehe

message 12: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Thanks, Mark and Diane.

Diane, google St. Elmo's fire and see how pretty Demi Moore was ha ha.

Srinivas just downloaded the book, going to read, but thought, before that, let have a look at some reviews, found urs, thanks for the review.

message 14: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Hope I did not spoil anything for you, Srinivas. Sorry if I did. Enjoy and hope you like it as well. :)

Srinivas K.D. wrote: "Hope I did not spoil anything for you, Srinivas. Sorry if I did. Enjoy and hope you like it as well. :)"

this book has everything what u reviewed. i am finding this book likable.

message 16: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Thanks, Srinivas.

Terie Gee It is definitely devoid of the usual condescending tone from adults when they read something about today's generation.
I am also from the Philippines, and sure, we might do it a bit differently here, but the being young and invincible disposition is just as true.
I am glad to know that some adults never forget how it was being young.

message 18: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Thanks, Terie. :)

message 19: by Mark John (new)

Mark John soon to read. Thanks po sa review :)

message 20: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely You're welcome, M.J. Hope you'll like it too.

Biena (The Library Mistress) Reading this now. I stopped for FSJ. :)

message 22: by Mark John (new)

Mark John na try nyu na po bang basahin ang "Thae Fault in Our Stars"?

message 23: by K.D. (last edited Mar 18, 2013 06:29AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Biena, that's okay. FSJ is a great writer. A must read for all Filipinos.

M.J., no. I think it is too melodramatic for me. :) But I am not really closing my door hahaha. If somebody would lend me a copy, I'll be happy to try it.

Erica For all your comments and you only gave it 3 stars? I'm disappointed in your rant

message 25: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Sorry, Erica. :)

Mir Rubain I liked!

message 27: by K.D. (last edited Oct 05, 2013 07:05AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Thanks, R.S.

message 28: by Wade (new) - added it

Wade Cohen St Elmo's Fire. one of the great all time fav movies.. great point of reference

message 29: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Wade wrote: "St Elmo's Fire. one of the great all time fav movies.. great point of reference"

Thanks. We must be of the same generation. :)

message 30: by Beth (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth Lee As I was reading this I was thinking "this is the new St. Elmo's Fire"! Lol. Glad to hear it wasn't just me.

message 31: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Beth wrote: "As I was reading this I was thinking "this is the new St. Elmo's Fire"! Lol. Glad to hear it wasn't just me."

Really? We must be from the same generation lol! :)

message 32: by John (new) - added it

John Duenas Very nice writing !

message 33: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely John wrote: "Very nice writing !"

Thank you, John. :)

Γιώργος Wonderful review. I also read this book in January and I totally agree with what you said. Being young is a very difficult period...

message 35: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Γιώργος wrote: "Wonderful review. I also read this book in January and I totally agree with what you said. Being young is a very difficult period..."

Thank you! :)

message 36: by Noa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Noa Benveniste I wish I could relate to St. Elmo's Fire like you did, but unfortunately, I'm not from that generation! Otherwise, I would have to agree with your review. I can definitely understand why you didn't enjoy this book as much as you might have if you were still in high school. I enjoyed it because I could relate to it a little bit. As a high schooler you are exposed to a whole slew of things all at once. I didn't really relate to any of the characters because I don't go to boarding school and I've never participated in any of the illegal activities that these character do. However, I can relate to it because underage drinking, drugs, sex, etc. is very prominent in our society today and we are exposed to it through the media and what our peers have experienced. Thanks for such a wonderful review. It's great to see how another generation reacted to this book!

message 37: by Sammy (last edited Apr 28, 2015 05:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sammy Otoo I glad you were able to enjoy the novel at your age, if only somewhat! Since I'm in the target audience, the book really struck home with me, and many of the themes of drugs, sex, and teenage defiance are quite apparent in my daily high school life, by simply looking around as I walk through my school's halls (not from personal experience, though).
However, your analysis of the friendship motifs is the part of your review that struck me the most. From early on in grade school, I've noticed the importance of forming great bonds with people, even if these bonds may soon be tested by time, long distance, or by simply growing up. Sometimes I think about how certain friendships I currently have will disappear as we go to college, but your review helped me realize that it's the learning experience that counts most. Thanks for the well-written review!

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