Monday, November 10, 2014

Jessica Cheney- Looking for Alaska

Jessica Cheney
Composition 3
Looking For Alaska                      
John Green        
Speak, 2005
221 pages

“Francois Rabelais. He was a 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.” (p. 5)

The fiction book Looking For Alaska by John Green is broken up into two parts. One it titled “before” and the other is titled “after.” Halfway according to page numbers leaves the first half of the book about 20 pages before the end of the “before” part. The first half of the book tells the story of Miles “Pudge” Halter and his first semester at Culver Creek Boarding School. Miles is obsessed with the last words of famous people. This is one of the main reasons why he considers the “What happens to us after we die?” the most important question human beings must answer. His love of dying declaration is also why he decides to leave his home in order to seek the Great Perhaps spoken of by Francois Rabelais. Miles makes many friends at Culver Creek including the young and beautiful Alaska Young. Miles is very conflicted about his feeling toward Alaska. One moment she is kind and caring toward him and the other she is very rude and emotional. Miles and his friends spend most of the first semester getting into trouble for smoking or trying to prank the Weekday Warriors. The Weekday Warriors are students at Culver Creek who have wealthy parents and go home on the weekends to their mansions while students like Miles and his friends stay at school. The relationships that Miles has with his friends have a very big impact on him and change his life.
John Green is one of my favorite writers because of his great word choice and the unique voice he uses to write his story. He organizes some of his ideas into lists such as in this excerpt from page 14. “The Colonel explained to me that 1. this was Alaska’s room, and that 2. she had a single room because the girl who was supposed to be her roommate got kicked out at the end of last year, and that 3. Alaska had cigarettes, although the Colonel neglected to ask whether 4. I smoked, which 5. I didn’t.” Green uses this list organization several times throughout the beginning of the book as a way to express a blatant attitude to the information he is presenting. I also think he uses the lists as a way of showing how Miles tries to make sense of his new environment. The list format is not used again until later in that half and in that portion it is an actual list that Alaka tells Miles with a similar tone to the other lists. In this way, Green may be referring to Alaska when he uses lists at the beginning of the book.
There are several questions that this book asks of the readers such as, “Is loyalty worth it?” One of Miles’ first lessons at Culver Creek is never rat on anyone. Even after some of the Weekday Warriors ducked taped his arms and threw him in a lake, his roommate the Colonel told him he could not rat unless he wanted to be a social exile. It is revealed later in the book that Alaska was the one who ratted on her roommate and got her expelled. When Miles friend Takumi tells Miles this information, he makes sure that Miles does not tell the Colonel because of how the Colonel greatly values loyalty. But the reason Alaska told on her roommate was because if she didn’t Alaska would have been expelled. It is not revealed why Alaska fears getting expelled so much, but it is one of the main reasons for her actions in the book. There is also a situation in the book when Alaska and the Colonel take the fall for Takumi and Miles, even though they were all caught smoking on school grounds.  Therefore, the book shows that in some situations loyalty to your friends may not be the best choice.

My overall opinion of this book is that it is very well written and does a very good job of describing these relationships within the book. The only problems I had with this book were with the actual content. It is hard for me to approve of many of the characters actions such as their smoking and drinking habits, but Green also uses they actions as an important part of the book and also as symbols. Green also uses some swear words that I do not think were necessary. Except for those small problems I thought this was a very good book and I would recommend this book to any young adult who wants a fiction book that will make them think and is well written. This book was very exciting and I cannot wait to read the second half.

1 comment:

  1. You support your ideas well with specific examples!