Looking for Alaska is about 16-year old Miles Halter leaving his uneventful life in Florida for Culver Creek Boarding School in Alabama, in search of “the Great Perhaps.” There, he meets his roommate’s best friend aka the hottest girl he was ever seen aka Alaska Young and predictably falls in love with her. She is moody, intelligent (presumably because she has a wall full of books she calls her “Life’s Library), a little nutty, and self-destructive. Hello, Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She also has a long-distance boyfriend but I think he’s kind of a jerk. These are personality quirks that make her desirable to Miles which surprises me a little because what teenage boy would want to deal with that mess? But maybe I just knew the wrong kind of dudes (so LOLSUX4ME) and to be honest, I wish I had a Miles in my life when I, myself, was a dramatic, self-destructive teenager.
(I must add that while the characters are teenagers, they didn’t feel like teenagers. To me, they all seemed like a bunch of actors in their 20s playing teenage roles… like Dawson’s Creek. It’s not a bad thing, really, and I feel a little conflicted for thinking teens should act a certain way because I always felt like I was mature for my age aaaaand… I’m just going to put an end to this now.)
I first learned about Looking for Alaska from Carina (who has impeccable taste in books, music, tv shows, and life) so when Shinji (another friend who has impeccable taste in life) got a copy of the book some two months ago (which is apparently a bit hard to find here, IDK why), I excitedly lined up for it. They both loved the book and I prepared to love it as well. Rsen told me to prepare to get my heart ripped apart; Tin claimed this book ruined her life and even got “I go to seek a Great Perhaps” tattooed on her ribs.
Coming-of-age young adult novels will always be a favorite; of all the books I read as a teen, Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone moved me the most. I’m all grown-up now, though, and a bit on the cynical, your-issues-are-stupid, get-over-yourself side. I liked Looking for Alaska— it’s an easy read (even when Miles gets all kinda philosophical), it wasn’t a waste of time, had the right amount of funnies, and I thought it was beautifully-written BUT I’ll have to file this under If I Read This When I Was 16, I Would Have Been Completely Enamored With It (especially with lines like “if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane”).
It deals with stuff like love, tragedy, friendship, suffering, pain, grief, loss etc (what book doesn’t, really) none of which were really palpable. It’s a personal thing, though, because I have no sympathy for Alaska which makes me feel no sympathy for Miles and the gang (and because I have a heart of stone and I have no real emotions except love for kittens, acne remedies, and fried chicken). I know it should make for an interesting read but I have had enough of hot, beautiful disasters being glorified and romanticized because it sometimes makes readers want to be hot messes. As my boyfriend said (and this is more of a general statement, he hasn’t read LFA)— “That shit is only cool in movies and books. Being a â€œhot messâ€ doesnâ€™t put food on the table and educate your kids right, unfortunately.”
What I loved most about Looking for Alaska was that it wasn’t sanitized; there is a lot of drinking and smoking and sexy time and I liked how they messed around because it was fun to, not because they were going through some existential crisis that only intoxication can solve. Well, except for Alaska; girlfriend drinks and smokes because she’s a deeply unhappy person. K. You’re 16, you’ll get over i— wait, no, you won’t.