Looking for Alaska, John Green

Beware of the blurb

Now, if there’s one thing that irritates me, it’s film trailers which give the whole film away. I mean, why would I pay £8 to see a two hour film when within two minutes I know the entire surmise and plot of it, and for free too.

So when I picked up this book, which I had been really anticipating reading, and turned to the blurb to read:

“Alaska Young. Gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, screwed up – and utterly fascinating. Miles Halter could not be more in love with her. But when tragedy strikes, Miles discovers the value and the pain of living and loving unconditionally.”

I immediately knew that Alaska would die. It’s practically explicit right there on the back cover.

So then the whole time I’m reading it, I’m wondering when it’s going to happen, if now’s the moment when she dies, pre-empting the time of the inevitable. It’s upsetting because in a way, it ruins my enjoyment of the book. How can I enjoy the present when the future is weighing down on me like a ticking time bomb? On your first read of a new book, when you want everything to be exciting and unexpected, it’s not exactly the best feeling.

Still, the book was well-written enough for me to momentarily forget from time to time that Alaska is going to die. And even when it did eventually happen, Green’s musings in the aftermath on the importance of life and love are smart and evocative. Alaska’s character was unpredictable and unbalanced and made an interesting antithesis to the stereotypical heroine. In fact, her feminist screams of ‘subverting the patriarchal paradigm’ were the perfect accompaniment to the 21st century teenager who speaks in ideals but lives in a conflicting reality. I also liked the way that Miles could see her bad traits as clearly as the good: she was moody and bitchy and he knew it. After all, nobody’s perfect, and Green sure manages to portray the imperfections of his characters as convincingly as no-one else can.

Overall, it was a good read and a nice contrast from all of my uni books, (Shakespeare, Wyatt, Bede, gahhhh.) I’m really looking forward to reading The Fault in Our Stars by him also and yes, I have read the blurb.A recommended read for all you alienated teens out there in search of your ‘Great Perhaps’ just as Miles is.

One comment

  1. I think I’m the only person who didn’t figure the ending out from the back of the book. Oh well! Great review.

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