Originally posted on my previous blog – this post has been edited for spelling errors/clarity
Miles Halter transfers from his childhood school in Florida to an exclusive boarding school in Alabama to look for the ‘Great Perhaps’ quoted in the poet, Francois Rabelais’ last words. At Culver Creek, he finds many unique friends, including the funny, self-destructive Alaska, and many new and exciting adventures, and of course, pranks. As he tries to understand himself, he is pulled into Alaska’s labyrinth that leads to some shocking consequences.
Once upon a time, in 2011, Looking for Alaska – Green’s first novel – was the only book by him available in the UK, so receiving this as a present was a pretty big thing, as a rising but not yet hugely popular author. Considering he is arguably one of the most popular teen authors now, it’s amazing to see where he’s come in the last six years, helped along by the incredible The Fault in Our Stars.
I really liked this book, I really did. It was almost a five star rating, however, there are two small things that let it down, and from reading other reviews on this book, I know I’m not the only one that thinks these things.
The book is in two parts, the chapters marked with the days leading up to an unforeseeable event and then its aftermath. I thought the first half was so good – amazing even. I loved Miles’ voice and how original all the characters were. They are all such unique people with their own personality and importantly, they didn’t feel cliched or anything for me.
However, in the second part, it started to go downhill. It started to get tedious, boring, went on and on about the same thing. It was also much shorter (or at least seemed it) even though the events in the second half are integral to the plot. While the book’s ambiguity wasn’t its downfall, I felt it seemed quite rushed in a way that it wrapped up too tightly in the last ten or so pages. For me, it just wasn’t how a book like this should end and it disappointed me slightly.
The second little niggle was Alaska. She started to get on my nerves latterly. I just found her quite annoying at times, with behaviour that didn’t make sense to me at times. I preferred Miles as a character overall.
This book held both good and bad points. The characters, both teachers and students (The Eagle and Takumi made me laugh) and descriptions were all so original and different to many things I’ve read before. The characters’ interactions are so real and so emotional – it’s really nice to see. What John Green does successfully is show what it is truly like to be a teenager. While, the ‘After’ bit held some really good and emotional points, it was this part that let some of my enjoyment down for this book.
The book has some dark moments, but overall, this is a YA book I would highly recommend. It is full of characters you’ll love, an engaging plot that, through its great writing, carries you throughout. Overall, I think John Green has done a great job, especially as this was his debut. I really enjoyed this book, despite some disappointment at the end.
I give it a 4 out of 5