Looking for Alaska by John Green

It was not an eventful day. I should have done extraordinary things. I should have suck the marrow out of life” (Looking for Alaska, pg 122).

Synopsis: Miles “Pudge” Halter decides his Junior year of High School that he’s going to switch from his public school in Florida to his father’s boarding school in Alabama in search of his “Great Perhaps”. While there, he finds friends, adventure, and a bit of himself.

Krystal’s Review: From Hogwarts to Welton Academy, I’ve always enjoyed the “Great Perhaps” of boarding school stories. Completely unplanned, I re-watched The Dead Poets Society right before reading this, and as a result actually caught the Thoreau quote from Walden Pond “Suck the marrow out of life”. This book does exactly that, it takes the essence of what it means to live (and die), and throws it at the reader to contemplate. I’ve actually read this before, about seven years ago, and remember enjoying it then, too. I think the thing that struck me the most then, and what I appreciate now, is the way he foreshadows with “Before” and gives a timeline up to a pivotal point in the story.

“I wanted to be one of those people who have streaks to maintain, who scorch the ground with their intensity. But for now, at least I knew such people, and they needed me, just like comets need tails.”

Green certainly has a way with metaphors. From the cigarette smoke to the swan, you always have a deeper meaning. One of the best things about John Green’s writing is his ability to encompass all the messiness that comes with being a teenager–from the truly cringe-worthy to the soul searching moments. How much tongue is needed in a french kiss? How far can you prank the dean before you get expelled? What does it mean to live with guilt and regret? All of Green’s characters are perfectly flawed in one way or another.

“Suffering,” she said. “Doing wrong and having wrong things happen to you. That’s the problem. Bolivar was talking about the pain, not about the living or dying. How do you get out of the labryinth of suffering?” (pg 82)

John Green is YA canon for a reason (and no, I’m not just saying that because of geographical allegiance). Read any of his books and you won’t be disappointed. Also, if you have Hulu, this is a Hulu original television series, but…READ THE BOOK FIRST!!!

Check out this book is you like: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, or The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes.

PS. My favorite moment was definitely when he got bit in the butt by the swan!

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