Must Reads: Looking for Alaska

lookingforalaskaHey all!  Things are going pretty well in Starving Writer Land!  The holidays are creeping around the corner.  It’s hard to believe that Christmas is next week.  In fact, Christmas is so close that I probably shouldn’t be writing a blog.

Doing it anyway!

So, first things first.  I wanted to mention that I’m going to be doing another promo for the Kindle version of Opus Aria!  On the 21st to the 23rd, Opus Aria will be FREE on Amazon Kindle.  Consider it last minute Christmas shopping.  Or celebratory shopping when the Mayan Apocalypse doesn’t happen!  Nothing says surviving the apocalypse like dystopian fiction!

So there wasn’t a vlog this past week.  I thought that I’d wait until I got out to the boyfriend’s apartment and use the nice lighting in his dining area.

Then he suggested that I read Looking for Alaska while he was at work.

We’ll get back to that in a moment.  I’m hoping to save up for a video camera so I’m not limited by where my laptop goes for my vlogs.  It’ll also up the quality of the video.  And it’ll be more professional.  Yeah. And I want a video camera.  I’ll try to get a vlog done tomorrow or on Friday!

Looking for Alaska

So lets get back on topic.  Friday, while the boyfriend was at work, I read Looking for Alaska by John Green.  I’m a little late coming to the John Green party.  I’ve been following his vlogs for awhile now – mainly because the boyfriend keeps linking to them.  I did start watching the Vlogbrother videos sometime last week.

So I’m a little late to the party.

Anyway.

The boyfriend had finished the book and had recommended that I read it.  It’s not often that get recommendations from the boyfriend.  So…I thought I’d give it a chance.

I ended up loving the book.

To the point that I finished it long before he got home from work.

SPOILER WARNING: IF YOU HAVE NOT READ LOOKING FOR ALASKA PLEASE DO NOT READ THE REST OF THIS. READ THE BOOK FIRST.

The Characters

You guys know me.  I’m a sucker for interesting characters.  There were little quirks to the main characters that made them seem…real.  Pudge and his memorization of last words.  Alaska and her life’s library. The Colonel and his memorization of countries and capitals of countries.  What I liked the most about the characters is that they were pretty realistic representations of teenagers.  I never got into any of the hi-jinks that Pudge, Alaska, the Colonel, and Takumi got into – but those sort of things do happen.

I liked how Green used Lara as a foil for Alaska.  The boyfriend said he thought that Lara was kind of flat…that there just wasn’t much to her.  I like to think that it was a deliberate choice.  Since Looking for Alaska is a first person narrative, I think it means that Pudge just didn’t have any chemistry whatsoever with Lara.  He didn’t care to get to know her.  Lara was bland where Alaska was full of that Great Perhaps.  Lara was safe, Alaska was dangerous.  Pudge’s relationship with Lara was ‘sexual’, his relationship with Alaska was platonic.  It was very well done and it made me love the book even more.

The Foreshadowing

Alright.  Honestly, when I’m reading for pleasure, I don’t really focus on noticing foreshadowing or other literary devices.  The boyfriend mentioned this one to me and because he mentioned it, I was more aware of it than I might otherwise have been.  My second read through of something is usually my critical read through.  I like how the main spoilertastic event of the book is foreshadowed throughout the entire ‘before’ section.

The foreshadowing starts subtle.  I wish the copy of Looking for Alaska was on the shelves, but it’s currently checked out.  I would find EXAMPLES. I would cite my sources!  Well, I found some quotes on Goodreads…so that’ll have to suffice.  Anyway…”If people were like rain, I was like drizzle and she was a hurricane.” I like this one in particular.  Alaska as a hurricane is great foreshadowing.  Destructive and intense…and then gone.  The book continues to foreshadow all the way through the “before” section.  The great part is the foreshadowing gets more and more intense – until it’s practically beating you over the head. And it’s glorious.

Catharsis

What I really enjoyed about this book is the catharsis I went through in the “after” section.  I haven’t read an incredible amount of new material since August.  It’s been hard to do so.  And I was leery of reading Looking for Alaska because I knew it was going to be sad.  But…it was exactly what I needed.  The book was right – I’m a girl and I ended up crying.  But it wasn’t because of any lost love.  It was because of a specific quote. This one:  “What is an “instant” death anyway? How long is an instant? Is it one second? Ten? The pain of those seconds must have been awful as her heart burst and her lungs collapsed and there was no air and no blood to her brain and only raw panic. What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.”  That quote…even now…makes me think back to October 5th.  The day my grandmother died.  Was her death instant? Was it peaceful? What is a peaceful death?

I was going through what the characters were going through.  Slowly coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.  As the book came to a close and Pudge wrote his religion final, I found myself feeling better.  By the end of his paper, I felt more like myself than I had in months.

lookingforalaska2

Conclusion

It was an extremely emotional read for me.  That doesn’t happen often – but it was wonderful.  I think I may need to re-think about my ‘dislike’ of first person narratives.  I think a few spoiled the lot for me.  All the first person narratives I’ve read recently have been out of the park fantastic.  There are a lot of things I didn’t cover in this blog…but it’s already getting on in words.

I highly recommend Looking for Alaska.  It’s a quick read.  It’s a great coming of age story.  It has compelling characters.  The book is fantastic.  Check it out.

I can’t wait to read more of John Green’s work.

~LL Lemke

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One thought on “Must Reads: Looking for Alaska

  1. Pingback: A Couple Things to Remember as a Writer (Part 5) « Rants from a Starving Writer

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