A coming of age read from John Green

john green

After so many months, I’m finally done with my second book from John Green. I received this book as a birthday gift last December.  Back then, I was still reading another John Green, The Fault in our Stars.  If I remember it right, I started this book last February. Blame everything on my recent addiction to some Korean drama series. 😉 Reading took a step back as I always spend the entire night with my DVD marathons. Now that my supply of drama series is dwindling, I went back reading. Hence, this post finally made it.

During my first encounter with the book, I thought that Alaska was treated as a place. Turns out, Alaska is a person.  The book related the story of a group of young college students in Culver Creek. The lead character is Miles, who was almost a loner during his high school years. (I can relate!) When he went to a college boarding school, he found himself in the group of Colonel, Takumi, Lara and Alaska. Miles’ group was responsible for tagging him as Pudge, which became his identity in the course of the story.

The story was divided to two parts, before and after. I won’t relate the dividing line between before and after. Everything evolves on Pudge’s attempts to find answers. Pudge and his group’s journey to solve a mystery led them to answers, that demanded more meaning and understanding.

The book became a recipient of the 2006 Michael Printz Award (best book written for teens). This should have been a plus factor but for some reason, I often end up rendering lesser appreciation for award winning literary works. In this case, allow me to discuss my personal view.

If the originality and novelty of the story will be graded, I’ll give John Green 3 out of 5 stars. For me, Looking for Alaska relates a typical coming-of-age story. The story reminded me of movies such as St. Elmo’s Fire and With Honors. Not of similar plot, but they all carry similar a theme. The story’s structure is not really something new for me. As I see it, the events that transpired in Looking for Alaska can happen to anyone. However, John Green compensated by emphasizing his trademark of powerful words. John Green is one of the few writers who can narrate an ordinary story in an extraordinary way. Each chapter is enriched with heart-warming words that leaves readers with that rare emotional trail.

As for character development, I guess this is where John Green excelled. He created characters whom everyone can relate too. John Green can place you in the shoes of the characters, who can be your complete opposite. I was always a shy and reserved person in my schooling years so I never understood students who always engage themselves in trouble. But when Pudge, Colonel and Alaska’s dangerous escapades were presented to me, I didn’t find it disturbing and annoying. Everything appeared to me as a typical and accepted teenage-adult transition.

Overall, I would give Looking for Alaska as 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a typical story that has been empowered with compeling words and excellent character development. 

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