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Looking for Alaska
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PAST Group Reads 2018 > Looking for Alaska- June- SPOILER THREAD

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message 1: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jun 02, 2018 10:48PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
This is the SPOILER THREAD for Looking for Alaska by John Green. If you do not want to view spoilers, look for the Spoiler-Free discussion.

In this space it is OK to discuss opinions, events, the ending, and any other spoilers about the book.

These threads will remain in the Current Read Folder until June 30. They will be bumped down to a new folder, where you can continue the discussion. These threads will all remain open.


message 2: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
So, what did you think of the book?


message 3: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
OK I guess I'll start. I finished Looking for Alaska. I don't think I would have read it if the group didn't pick it, but I'm really glad I did. I enjoyed it a lot. I don't normally read YA, but I do love a good coming of age story. This one has a lot more substance than most. I liked the characters, and their relationships. I really liked that the author tied some philosophy and comparative religion into the book, without it being heavy handed or preachy. The teen angst was perfect for the story. (I thought it was overdone in one of this author's other books).

Many great books about kids or teens tend to feature at least one real bookworm. I wonder if this is simply because the author was a bookworm as a kid (write what you know), or if it's a way to connect quickly with kids who love to read. Despite the fact that I am not remotely in this book's demographic, I related to both Miles and Alaska in different ways.


Debbie I know I'm in the minority but I did not like this book. I didn't like any of the characters. I also think it might glorify teenage suicide just a tad. I've seen too many teens take their life recently. I don't see this book as part of the solution.


message 5: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Debbie wrote: " .. I also think it might glorify teenage suicide just a tad. I've seen too many teens take their life rece..."

That's a good point. I didn't think it glorified suicide (partly because it wasn't clear that it was suicide), but it did glorify the character, so I can see how it could be seen that way. There were two high profile suicides this week in the news, and a news report mentioned that the suicide rate went up 10% after Robin Williams died. I was really surprised by that.

I did think that it promoted smoking, which is very irresponsible of John Green, who is a very popular YA author. When Miles described how it looked and felt, it almost made me want a cigarette, even though I think smoking is disgusting. The smoke on the cover serves as a reminder.


message 6: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. (...) 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.”
― John Green, Looking for Alaska


message 7: by Joy, Your Obedient Servant (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
I recently finished this book. I have not read any other books by the author so I cannot compare it that way. I usually enjoy YA fiction and the internal monologue that comes with it. In this case, I would have preferred the narrator to have been Alaska herself, but I understand her death made it impossible for the format of the story. I found her to be more complex and interesting than her numerous male counterparts and would liked to have been able to see how she thought and saw the world.

I have to disagree with the point about glorifying teen suicide. I think it did a remarkable job weighing the effects of trauma on mental health while not definitively stating that it was a suicide. We were left wondering if it was a suicide or an accident and the author did not offer a positive or negative opinion about that. I think it was a fairly good portrayal of the struggles with mental health without setting up the idea that "now we are talking about mental health" and going from there.

I also liked that the book did not end with Alaska's death , but gave room to explore the aftermath and how the people left behind have to deal with the events and how they choose to move on.


message 8: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jun 19, 2018 12:27PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
J. wrote: "I recently finished this book. I have not read any other books by the author so I cannot compare it that way. I usually enjoy YA fiction and the internal monologue that comes with it. In this case,..."

Joy, I agree that it was important that the book discussed the aftermath of her death, and the effect it had on her friends. I think it helped also to show different ways of dealing with grief, the importance of supporting others in grief, and the fact that it does lessen over time. I also liked the philosophical and religious discussion. There might be one insight in that discussion that could help a kid who is dealing with loss. Different ones, for different people.


message 9: by Janet, series facilitator (last edited Jun 18, 2018 10:23AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Janet (goodreadscomjanetj) | 91 comments Mod
I agree that the philosophical/religious discussions were well done and I, too, agree that it did not glorify suicide but instead brought out the pain it caused for her friends. What I did not care for was the part about the sex experimentation. I thought it unnecessary. The scene with Alaska kissing Pudge was integral to the story but the rest was over the top and young adult books are going to be read by kids who are 12 or 13. I just did not see the point.

One success of the book for me was the last words "gimmick". I am not usually one for gimmicks in books but this one really worked and I could not wait to read the next "last words" quote.


message 10: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jun 19, 2018 12:28PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Janet wrote: "I agree that the philosophical/religious discussions were well done and I, too, agree that it did not glorify suicide but instead brought out the pain it caused for her friends. What I did not care..."

I think "last words" was a great gimmick too. Some of them were really interesting. It's funny that the discussion of smoking bothered me more than the discussion of sex. I'm so used to seeing it, i barely noticed it. I didn't know 12 year old kids would be reading this, but then again I read everything on my parent's shelf at that age (including part of Portnoy's Complaint - which was repulsive as I recall). With my kids, I was always more concerned about them seeing too much violence or sexual violence in movies, because it inures you to it. I didn't worry as much about sex, but we had a lot of family discussions about it. We talked about sex and values, respect, relationships, protection, sex with alcohol (=rape imo), violence, and what to do if you think there is sexual violence happening at a party. My son was very protective of his female friends.


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