cirquedesgeeks: Susan: She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain. ([Susan])
The cover of Looking For Alaska by John Green; a black cover with smoke rising up from a candle on it.Looking for Alaska by John Green // Penguin, 2005 // Gift from Renay // Read and reviewed February 2013

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.


As I said before, I was reading John Green's backlist as I was going to an event he and his brother Hank were doing (I went with Tonks and it was so much fun!). As I said before, I wasn't keen on the protagonist of Looking For Alaska.

I finished the book on Monday and I'm honestly not sure how I feel about it. It's very well-written; the prose is full of colour and life, easy to gulp down. Many points to John Green; he is readable. I have no complaints about the writing or the realism or the humour (this book is seriously funny when it wants to be, especially regarding the pranks.). My complaints are entirely about the content.

Part of it is that I don't actually like Miles/Pudge. It's generally okay when I'm reading (apart from specific scenes where I have to put the book down and fume for a few seconds because wow he is sometimes insensitive and annoying.) but when I stop reading, I realise that he's self-absorbed and annoying and kinda subsumes Alaska and her problems and in some ways he wants to take her whole existence into his own little story and I am not interested in that. This is entirely just me1, but I just couldn't get into it. On the flip side, I couldn't stop reading. Curse youWell! Time to stop caring about Alaska as a person, let's move on to seeing her as an object in Miles' character development! and I wasn't impressed. Miles doesn't seem to care as much about Alaska's absence as he does about himself and his feelings for her. ([personal profile] bookgazingraises interesting and spoilerific points about this - namely that this is what people actually do. I'm guilty of this myself, in some ways. That doesn't mean that it's not really annoying!) John Green himself explicitly acknowledges that this is a problem, and I believe that it is something he addresses in Paper Towns... But it's something that still bothers me in the here and now.

I can't honestly say that I like this book. I can acknowledge, objectively, that it is quite good, but there is nothing about this book that relates to to me - not as a student, a girl, a teenager, as someone falling in love for the first time, as someone grieving for the first time. It has funny parts and emotional parts (the Colonel is particularly good for these; his feelings about his mother and his last line are genuinely touching.), and parts with genuine emotional resonance. I just... Couldn't get into it. I think that I might get on great with a different John Green book - but not this one.

1I have been informed by Tonks that one of the reasons Miles might annoy me so much is that "he's a very well-written teenage boy", and as I was at an all-girl's school between the ages of eleven and eighteen and didn't really socialise outside of school, I managed to skip teenage boys entirely, which means I might have unreasonable expectations for how obnoxious teenage boys actually are.

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Cirque des Geeks

About Us

Welcome to Cirque Des Geeks! We are a trio of geeks who review books, manga, comics, tv shows, and films as the mood takes us. Our trio comprises Sam (the fez-wearing philosopher), Susan (the book-addled librarian), and Tonks (the shape-changing scientist). Our interests are wide and varied, but generally come back to science fiction and fantasy in all their forms.

Sam and Tonks can also be found working with Black Stump Films (On Vimeo and Youtube) making short films.

We do not have a formal posting schedule, but the current goal is at least two posts per week. If you wish to be kept in the loop of what's happening, please follow us on twitter - [personal profile] cirquedesgeeks.

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