Sunday, December 14, 2014

Looking for Alaska

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Genre: Young Adult
Published: 2005
Rating: 8.5/10

Review: Amazon website seems to be designed to get me to read more book. On my laptop, I usually add books that sound interesting into my Amazon wish list and then when I have nothing to read, I go through it and pick something. On mobile web, when I view a Kindle book, it doesn't give me the option to add it to my wish list (or I wasn't able to find this option) and instead I thought I might download a sample to my Kindle instead to remember it. But of course having a sample turns into reading a sample and then immediately reading the rest. Not such a bad thing certainly since I really enjoyed Looking for Alaska.

The story takes place at a private boarding school in Alabama, which Miles Halter joins in his junior year of high school. There he makes friends with Chip "The Colonel" Martin and Alaska Young. The kids in this school are all very smart, but it's also notorious for pranks. Miles spends a lot of time smoking and drinking with his friends and develops a crush on Alaska.

I can absolutely understand why this book would appeal to a teenager. The characters are smart and likable, but at the same time daring and non-conformist. The book starts off somewhat racy (in a teenage book sense of racy) with Alaska recounting a story of her neighbour honking her boob over the summer. And there's plenty of smoking, drinking, and making out. Also, there's plenty of geekery: Miles memorizes last words of various famous people; The Colonel can name a capital of any country in the world, and Alaska is full of deep philosophical questions.

The story is all about the characters much more so than the plot. It's the relationships, the search for answers, the tensions that make the story interesting. Plus, the writing is very good -- I definitely enjoy John Green's prose. The closest book I've read that Looking For Alaska reminds me of is The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. They are different, but both have very interesting female characters, are set in boarding schools, and whose plot revolves around some elaborate school pranks. I guess I've found a genre I enjoy -- and also an author whose books I will surely read more of.

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