Kicking it old school with John Green & Looking For Alaska

Review by Luke West
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: CYA/ Coming of age
Publisher: Harper Collins
Year of Publication: 2005 (but still totally in print)

Okay, firstly, John Green, you da’ man! My love for your powerful written word and blasted addictive storylines are quickly manifesting into a serious man crush. You’ve put me on a roller coaster without the safety harness, Mr Green, and I’m still finding myself wanting to ride again and again!

Okay, deep breath. Now that my ‘fan-girling’ (why is fan-boying not a thing?) is out of the way, let’s get down to business.

In anticipation of the new John Green book, Turtles All The Way Down (due to hit shelves in October), I found myself googling information on his other publications. I stumbled across his debut book, Looking for Alaska. My sister is always raving about the book but for some reason it kept getting pushed down the old Goodreads TBR pile. To hell with it, I thought, this will be my next read. I buckled my seat belt, eager to be pulled into Green’s heart wrenching story lines, but was a little let down at first (I said ‘at first’, so calm down John Green fans. I’m on your side).

Being a massive fan of Green’s most popular read (and film adaptation), The Fault In Our Stars, admittedly I wasn’t drawn into the story as much as I prepared for (perhaps that’s my own doing) and some of the characters annoyed me. They were too friendly too fast, and way too comfortable with life away from home. Sadly, I found myself not wanting to pick it up. I spoke with my sister (more like grilled her for wasting my time…jokes Emi, we good) who confirmed I’d regret putting it down. I took her word for it (she owed me seven cup cakes if I disagreed in the end). From about the halfway point, I was hooked. The Green roller coaster was hitting those death defying loops and hitting them hard.

The story follows a young guy named Miles (better known as Pudge), who enrolled in a boarding school. He meets his roommate, who’s famously known around the halls as The Colonel, who then introduces him to future love interest, Alaska (no spoilers coming). Green introduces two other characters, who finish off the friendship group nicely. They like playing pranks on fellow school members and spend most their time (between horrible¬†school classes, assignments and video games) figuring out ways to outdo the previous prank. Life quickly changes for the group of friends when…nope, promised no spoilers.

There’s no denying John Green has a way with words…yes I hear you, he is¬†a writer, but his words just aren’t words, they are poetic, storytelling gold. He creates relatable characters who are more mature than you would first anticipate, all of whom are people you’d love to meet in person. They go through real life troubles, overcome the torture and come out with a unique, somewhat philosophical spin on life that leaves you thinking about them days after you turn the last page. I actually learn lessons from Green’s books, learn to look at life a little differently.

The ending is…is…gah, so good but so painstakingly annoying, but so good, and yes I get why he wrote it like that and love it, but, but, what happened? Ahhh no freaking spoilers!

No cupcakes for me!

4 out of 5 from me, the guy who likes chips with extra chicken salt.


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