Monday, September 26, 2011

Looking for Alaska - John Green

Synopsis: Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave "the Great Perhaps" even more (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy 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. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . . After. Nothing is ever the same.


Can John Green do anything wrong? No. I don't think it's possible. 
I almost want to just write this post with a string of quotes, which I think speaks to the nature of John Green's writing. His way of wrangling the big concepts of life into characters and words just demonstrates his extraordinary power to capture moments in the most preservative way. If any words from this time were to last forever, they would be in some sort of construction created by John Green. 


So Looking for Alaska is John Green's first novel, but it is the last one of his that I've read. He started his career strong and has kept it going. He does seem to have a formula - awkward boy who wants to break out of his boring routine; wild, dangerous, and unattainable girl; an eclectic, but loyal group of friends; lots of epiphanies; and some form of a road trip. I do have to say the road trips get better as John keeps writing, but all the other components are there. Pudge is looking for the "Great Perhaps" and goes to boarding school to escape boredom. Alaska is simultaneously full of life and a deep darkness, sucking Pudge in like quicksand. And Pudge's friends in this novel are, kind of like Paper Towns, the best part. They plan pranks, push every boundary they can think of, fight like friends fight, but no matter what they support each other. 


It was very difficult not to compare Alaska to Margo Roth Spiegleman from Paper Towns. I think that Margo is Alaska, but John took her character further. They seem to have the same personality and the same darkness. They have that tendency to draw people to them, but never let them completely in. They're both just big mysteries - I think the only difference is in how they are solved. In Alaska the mystery ends with closure, but nothing is really solved. Margo's mystery is solved and there's some sort of closure as well. It is interesting to see how John Green took two similar girls, attached to similar guys, and pushed them in different directions. 


Well, Looking for Alaska is incredible. If you haven't read John Green, I suggest you start now. 
I need to quote at least ONE thing so..."When adults say, 'Teenagers think they are invincible' with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don't know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end and so it cannot fail."


And in honor of Banned Books week (I had to include a Vlogbrothers video...):
John Green and "I Am Not a Pornographer"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Monday, September 26, 2011

Looking for Alaska - John Green

Synopsis: Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave "the Great Perhaps" even more (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy 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. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . . After. Nothing is ever the same.


Can John Green do anything wrong? No. I don't think it's possible. 
I almost want to just write this post with a string of quotes, which I think speaks to the nature of John Green's writing. His way of wrangling the big concepts of life into characters and words just demonstrates his extraordinary power to capture moments in the most preservative way. If any words from this time were to last forever, they would be in some sort of construction created by John Green. 


So Looking for Alaska is John Green's first novel, but it is the last one of his that I've read. He started his career strong and has kept it going. He does seem to have a formula - awkward boy who wants to break out of his boring routine; wild, dangerous, and unattainable girl; an eclectic, but loyal group of friends; lots of epiphanies; and some form of a road trip. I do have to say the road trips get better as John keeps writing, but all the other components are there. Pudge is looking for the "Great Perhaps" and goes to boarding school to escape boredom. Alaska is simultaneously full of life and a deep darkness, sucking Pudge in like quicksand. And Pudge's friends in this novel are, kind of like Paper Towns, the best part. They plan pranks, push every boundary they can think of, fight like friends fight, but no matter what they support each other. 


It was very difficult not to compare Alaska to Margo Roth Spiegleman from Paper Towns. I think that Margo is Alaska, but John took her character further. They seem to have the same personality and the same darkness. They have that tendency to draw people to them, but never let them completely in. They're both just big mysteries - I think the only difference is in how they are solved. In Alaska the mystery ends with closure, but nothing is really solved. Margo's mystery is solved and there's some sort of closure as well. It is interesting to see how John Green took two similar girls, attached to similar guys, and pushed them in different directions. 


Well, Looking for Alaska is incredible. If you haven't read John Green, I suggest you start now. 
I need to quote at least ONE thing so..."When adults say, 'Teenagers think they are invincible' with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don't know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end and so it cannot fail."


And in honor of Banned Books week (I had to include a Vlogbrothers video...):
John Green and "I Am Not a Pornographer"

No comments:

Post a Comment