John Green’s „Looking For Alaska” is probably my favourite work of his. Published seven years before his most famous piece “The Fault In Our Stars” (2012) captured millions of readers all over the world, Looking for Alaska showed the mysterious, dark side of growing-up, mixed with mental health issues, trauma and loss.
As I mentioned in my review of “Turtles All The Way Down” I adore John Green’s style of writing in all of his books, but in Alaska he has certainly outdone himself. He speaks the language of teenagers like no one else, which is why John Green is the master of Y/A literature (in my eyes at least). Looking for Alaska is for the lack of a better word, more “indie” than the rest of his books and I love the mystery and the companionship between the main characters. Also, establishing a protagonist who quotes the last words of dead people is so unusual, and at the same time the perfect match to the story.
Anyway, enough about the author, let me give you a quick overview of the plot (spoiler-alert!).
The book starts with young, friendless Miles deciding to go to boarding school in, as he puts it, the search for the great perhaps.
Shortly after his arrival at Culver Creek Boarding School he is named “Pudge” and has made the first three friends of his life. Chip, Pudges roommate, and his friends Takumi and Alaska. Those four aren’t the cool-kids at Culver Creek, but they are extremely smart and, especially in Alaska’s case, really good in pranking. So the first few months of the school year go by, but it wouldn’t be High School if there weren’t some sort of romantic drama involved. Miles has been falling for Alaska, the only female in their group, ever since he stepped into her dorm-room filled with books. The stunning girl is as beautiful on the outside as she is screwed-up and lonely on the inside. With her near, it never boring and historic pranks are pulled off. Yet despite the fun there’s that dark cloud that follows Alaska everywhere she goes. She literally goes from being all bubbly and seemingly happy to making cryptic comments like “Y’all smoke to enjoy is, I smoke to die.”and so the girl with the childhood-trauma and thousands of books, slowly wins Miles’ heart. She is enchanted by him as well, but just when they seem to hit it off, she dies in a car-accident, which could have been suicide but we never find out whether Alaska really killed herself or if it was a terrible accident. Miles and his friends are left in a deep hole of guilt and grief and have to fight against the tidal wave of life and remember to keep going.
In the end, it’s Alaska who puts Miles in a miserable place in the middle of the story, yet she also teaches him and all the readers one important lesson for life: The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.