Looking for Alaska by John Green is the first of five novels written by the young adult author. Published in 2005, this novel is about a young high school student who decides that he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps by attending the same boarding school that his dad went to. In order to suck the marrow out of life (side note: I read that YOLO is for people who don’t know what carpe diem means), Miles leaves the comforts of home to go off and have his own adventures. He acquires a roommate and a set of friends belonging to his roommate and through their relationships, their actions, their reactions change each other’s lives forever.
I can now say that I have read all of John Green’s novels with the exception of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which he co-wrote with David Levithan. I really enjoy John Green’s novels. Just like I have said in my other reviews, I appreciate that his novels bring excitement and eloquence to the lives of teenagers, and there is no involvement of vampires, witches, death matches or futuristic factions. I definitely liked this book better than An Abundance of Katherines and probably would tie it with Paper Towns (these three novels don’t come close to topping my love for A Fault In Our Stars).
My favorite aspect of this book and the major thing that sets it apart from the others, in my opinion, is that each day mentioned in the book begins with a countdown to a big, pivotal event in the story. This countdown allows for a great deal of tension to build and also helps the reader to focus on the events more closely as the countdown nears zero. I also really appreciated that after the day of the big event the countdown starts counting up. This fact lets us know that the story is not over. That even though the big event happened that life goes on. To me, this was pretty inspired.
My disappointment after reading this novel is that I discovered that, with the exception of The Fault In Our Stars, the stories of his novels all involve similar characters that generally experience similar emotions and realizations in life. The main character in the story, a guy, is sorta geeky, not super popular, not without friends, and kinda bored with life. There is a girl who, while held up on a pedestal, is far from perfect, a little bit tragic (if not a lot tragic) and ends up squashing the guy’s ideas of love. There are sidekicks that are cool in their own right but not popular. These guys occasionally show their softer, more vulnerable sides and are usually supportive of the main guy. The parents of the main guy are generally cool, understanding parents who allow the main guy the freedom to go on their journey to discovering who they are. Having discovered a framework to these book is troubling because I would love to continue to read and enjoy John Green’s novels but I doubt that will happen if he can’t break the framework. The Fault In Our Stars does not follow the framework, but I imagine that the reason is because his latest and most popular novel was based on a real life person and because he took a decade to write the book. I would wait another decade to read a novel as great as A Fault In Our Stars but I would be sad if I had to do so.
I would recommend this novel to friends I know have enjoyed other John Green novels. I would also recommend this novel to fans of the young adult genre and to young adults. I would suggest that Looking for Alaska should be reserved for an older teen as some of the subject matter and the events in the story are rather mature.
Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines use the same narrator. I enjoy the narrator’s works but perhaps the fact that both novels have the same voice as well contributes to my thinking that the characters are similar.