Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska - 5+ starsView full review here!I’m at the start of writing this review and my biggest fear is that I could not ever, not in the least possible way do justice to this book. My copy of John Green’s Looking for Alaska has been worn-out, pencil-marked, tab-marked, spine-crooked, dog-eared, which says a lot about how it amazes me. Even the perfectionist in me couldn’t stop me from reading it over and over again, causing this slightly wrecked but truly loved book. I’ve read it an uncountable amount of times, one of those times being yesterday. So I decided that I finally couldn’t hold off writing a review any longer – which I haven’t done just yet because of the previously mentioned reason. I’ll try my very best, but I’m afraid that the words will fail me. So beware.“François Rabelais. He was this poet. And his last words were: ‘I go to seek a Great Perhaps’. That’s why I’m going. So I don’t have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.”Miles ‘Pudge’ Halter is an undeniably bright skinny sixteen-year-old who is obsessed with dead famous people’s last words, and also done with his uneventful life. In a search for what Rabelais called ‘the Great Perhaps’, Pudge exchanges Florida for boarding school in Alabama. There, he befriends a ragtag group consisting of his genius scholarship student roommate, Chip ‘the Colonel’; Japanese hip hop whiz kid Takumi; and Alaska, the sexy, adventurous, self-destructive, out-of-this-world leader of the group.“I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”Alaska, both a self-loathing darkness as well as an energetic light, pulls Miles into her world of smoking, drinking and mischief and so becomes the center of his universe. Innocent at first, but with time come radical plot changes, and with that love, lust, loss and longing, mixed with severe suffering.Looking for Alaska is a heartbreaking story that – split into a ‘Before’ and ‘After’ part – revolves around tragedy. John Green’s clever, funny writing in combination with hard-hitting life questions and philosophical musings made me, as a reader, think, really think, about what it means to be alive in this world.“People, I thought, wanted security. They couldn’t bear the idea of death being a big black nothing, couldn’t bear the thought of their loved ones not existing and couldn’t even imagine themselves not existing. I finally decided that people believed in an afterlife because they couldn’t bear not to.”I truly loved this story, but moreover, I loved the vividly real, complex and beautifully drawn characters. I loved Pudge, I loved the Colonel, I loved their friendship. I felt sorry for Takumi because he was always a bit left out, I didn’t really like or care about Lara, but I see her role in it all. And I had mixed feelings about Alaska, who could be sweet and endearing as much as a self-absorbed bitch. But I’m sure everyone (fictional or not) felt that way about her. What fascinated me most was the perfect harmony of the witty conversations (especially between Pudge and the Colonel) and Pudge’s insightful thoughts about life and death.Another aspect that amazed me was the way John Green captured sadness, guilt, anger, trust and acceptance, every aspect of grief and healing, in the less-than-two-hundred-pages of the ‘After’ part. Though I was unaware of it for the first half, every action and thought came together in the end, giving the story a worthy end.I told you it would be impossible to express my love for this book in words, and it was. This book is passionate, hilarious, moving and mostly thought-provoking. The first time I finished I spent weeks after thinking about it, agreeing and disagreeing with Pudge’s answers to the great life questions we all desperately want answered. It's my all-time favorite YA contemporary, which says a lot. It was also the first book that made me cry.I’d like to conclude with my favorite quote from the book – that is to say, my favorite quote that doesn't reveal all too many spoilers. This is by Alaska.“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”