Miles Halter has walked out into the big bad world when he moves to Alabama to attend Culver Creek Boarding School. Suddenly, he is plummeted into the teenage world of rule-breaking, new loves, snatched cigarettes, the recklessness of youth and the instability of emotion. When he arrives at school, he is hit by the sudden loneliness of it all on his hot bed only to find that this empty space is taken over by his larger-than-life room-mate Chip Martin. After this new-found friendship, Chip aka “Colonel” christens Miles as “Pudge” and, therefore, starts the roller coaster ride of Pudge at Culver Creek. Introductions include the display of sharing their unique talents – Chip can memorize anything and Miles knows the last words of famous personalities. So much so that it becomes one of the highlights of the story.
“I found myself thinking about President William McKinley, the third American president to be assassinated. He lived for several days after he was shot, and towards the end, his wife started crying and screaming, “I want to go too! I want to go too!” And with his last measure of strength, McKinley turned to her and spoke his last words: “We are all going.”
Colonel starts off Pudge at Culver Creek and introduces him to the fascinating Alaska Young. Alaska is a fast-lane girl with a striking personality. She is bold, bizarre, mystifying, and attractive. Too bad for Pudge that she has a boyfriend she “can’t stop kissing”. Colonel, Pudge, Alaska, Takumi and Lara are distinguished parts of a coterie that sneaks off to smoke and finds themselves strangely intrigued by the World Religions class taught by Dr. Hyde. Although apprehensive at first, they seem to seek answers to their teenage troubles after a heady dose of Dr. Hyde’s strict lectures. As it is with most boarding schools, they have their enemies and they have peculiar ways of dealing with their enemies at Culver Creek. So, when Pudge is almost killed in a prank by the lake, Alaska takes it unto herself to teach the Weekday Warriors a lesson that involves a sinister attack at what they love most – their hair.
Looking for Alaska is full of enjoyable interactions and then some jolting moments that startle young adults while growing up. Like when they see Colonel’s house or when they know why Alaska thinks it’s “all her fault” some of the teenage enthusiasm whooshes out. How Alaska’s character tosses and turns within herself and how she leaves her friends with some intriguing questions is what the story is mostly about. The girl who always wondered how to get out of the labyrinth that is life leaves a big impact on her friends.
“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. (…) You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”
John Green’s characters are lovable. They have noteworthy personalities and are always bubbling. I’ve read The Fault In Our Stars and I loved it. I read Looking For Alaska post that and loved it too. It may be young adult fiction, but our questions are the same. What is the purpose of this life? How do we get out of this labyrinth of existence? But above all, we ask ourselves, do we really grow up? Ever?
This book is highly recommended. It’s funny, insightful, scary and brazen. And if nothing else, where will you come across a boy who knows the last words of so many renowned personalities? And where will you meet a girl who named herself Alaska because it “It’s from an Aleut word, Alyeska. It means ‘that which the sea breaks against,'”?
“I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane.”
Credit for Featured Image: http://itsonlydallis.deviantart.com/art/John-Green-Cover-Photo-TFIOS-LoveLikeSleep-296636889