Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.
Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green’s arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.
Ok, well. Where to even start with this one? First of all, this is my first John Green novel. I’ll pause while you all clutch your pearls.
Now then. This may be my first John Green, but it certainly won’t be my last. I get it. I totally get why he has legions of squealing fangirl/fanboy book bloggers. I now count myself among them. I am a gen-u-ine Green fan. I have no idea why it took me so long to get to this point, but I’m firmly here now.
Why? Because John Green can write the hell out of a book, first and foremost. His prose is really fluid, almost like he’s speaking the words to you instead of reading them on the page. Does that make sense? Probably not. But he has a really conversational style that’s enjoyable to read. Some of my favorite examples:
“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.”
“I vaguely remember Laura standing in the doorway, the room dark and the outside dark and everything mild and comfortable but sort of spinny, the world pulsing as if from a heavy bass beat. And I vaguely remember Laura smiling at me from the doorway, the glittering ambiguity of a girl’s smile, which seems to promise the answer to a question but never gives it.”
“She taught me everything I knew about crawfish and kissing and pink wine and poetry. She made me different.”
Right? And dialogue? He can do that as well. The teenage characters in Alaska are really believable, even while being larger than life. Alaska herself is mercurial. Pudge is thoughtful and taciturn. The Colonel is bombastic. They come from very different worlds but you can easily believe that they would be easy & fast friends. He also writes humor that is genuinely funny without being trite.
Green has a talent for taking even those of us who have been out of high school for a not-insignificant amount of time right back to those days, to our friendships and the people we didn’t like. He makes us remember what it was like when we felt like we had nothing but time and that those days would last forever. He raises lots of tough questions but gives us no real answers. It’s up to the reader to take what s/he will from the situations and the actions of the characters. And he will make you sob like a tiny little baby.
4.5/5 Stars and I may eventually take it up to a 5.