Book Review: Looking For Alaska
I ventured into John Green’s books after the amazing story I found in his most recent book “The Fault In Our Stars“. They say TFIOS is his greatest work yet. While I did have an insurmountable joy reading TFIOS, I can’t help but feel emotionally lonely days after finishing Looking For Alaska. I mean, both were great books and both had their own world to dominate in but I liked the character development and the plot of LFA better than TFIOS. What do I mean by this? Let me explain below.
Before I get to that, let me say a few things for this book. This is, after all, a book review for LFA. Let’s begin with what this book offers the reader.
1. Crazy college life type of story
2. Crazy friends
3. Crazy stunts
4. Crazy love
5. Crazy realizations
Simply put, this book is a pretty crazy book from my perspective. It’s a good thing, though. Books like this are rarely written. And if written at all, rarely written so well. It’s not your ordinary slice of life book. What separates this from most of its genre is the character development. John Green’s expertise lies in his ability to develop characters, every character, as if each one was the main and he can do this using so little words and so little dialogue too. All he has to do is provide a background and a few lines and the reader can automatically do his or her own thinking. That’s his magic: he doesn’t treat the reader as if they weren’t old enough to think for themselves. John Green treats his audience as people who shared the same experiences he had. And he applies it so well in this book. It’s like I’ve known the characters all my life.
And because I thought I’ve known them all my life is the reason why my heart was shattered when it happened. John made sure the reader would get to see how the characters cope with that event, however, and he didn’t write it too long nor too quick. John simply made the characters real enough that the reader would’ve also felt the same emotions and the same fits of fury, sadness, and how to get past those fits. If anything, this book taught me to live a life that is unanswered. Life is so full of questions it’s crazy how people can just die and not regret having some of them unanswered. But John Green simply wanted the reader to understand that you can’t have an answer, or an end, to anything you want to have it for. John Green made it a point to live a satisfied life despite the numerous dissatisfaction we all would end up incurring by the time we’re ready for our graves.
As for the comparison between the two books:
TFIOS’ plot revolved around two terminally ill lovers whom the reader knows one of them will die. The story focused on how typical cancer-stricken people with a not so typical attitude handled their lives and their disease and how they affect and will affect the world around them. Right there you actually expect a loneliness from the book. It doesn’t surprise you as much but somehow it still gives people that heartache that they can’t let go of for a few days.
LFA’s plot revolved around typical college friends with a not to typical attitude towards living a good life. I’m not a spoiler in reviews, well mostly, but the biggest thing that happened here isn’t what happens between before and after (you’ll understand once you read this) but what happens with the characters and how they emotionally grew. The ties that they built in this story is very deep and somewhat very familiar as with most readers having experienced or currently experiencing a similar relationship with their own band of crazy friends.
The big difference between the two is the familiarity or the way the book relates to the reader. TFIOS is dedicated to a girl who died of a thyroid cancer who happened to be John Green’s very special friend. John Green didn’t specifically write to appeal to readers but mainly to let the people know that not everyone struggling with a terminal disease such as cancer is all sad or all happy. He wanted them to know that they’re still regular people with just a very different perspective of life as the result of their terminal diagnosis. As you can see, John Green wanted to show something to the reader, he wanted to explain a concept while in LFA he simply wanted readers to know a story that he knows just about everyone can relate with. If you’re confused, how about this: how many people happen to know a very “different” girl or boy with a terminal disease versus the number of people who had or still have crazy friends? Obviously, the latter wins in the numbers category but it doesn’t mean TFIOS is the lesser book. It simply implies John Green’s purpose in writing them and I simply could relate better with LFA than TFIOS that I actually felt, and still feel, the emotional impact of the book’s story. TFIOS had a very bittersweet ending but LFA ended it with practically a much deeper philosophical lesson in life. And this is why I think Looking For Alaska is the better book. Not to mention that this is John Green’s first novel in which I believe is and will always be his greatest work.
I’ll share with you one of the biggest quotes that ever hit the internet:
I even memorized it the night I read it. And everyone else made it so popular specially this quote:
OVERALL RATING: 10/10
You can’t just live your life skipping books like this. You just can’t. It’s unacceptable and deplorable.