I’ve become lazier than usual. Normally, I love to write. On my daily commute, my mind drifts off into a wondrous fantasy where all I do is read, and write. Then the driver brakes so hard that I am jolted back to reality, where I get an ample amount of time to do what pays the bills. I am reading whenever I get the time (I sound so white-collar, I know). Looking for Alaska was an impulse buy because I had heard so much about The Fault in Our Stars and John Green. And I tend to buy in the series.
Let me start with a spoiler. The title is not about dumb teenagers who embark on a geographical quest to find Alaska. It refers to the female lead in the book. Yes, Alaska is a girl. Considering there are children named North and Audio Science, I kind of like the name Alaska. Between you and me, I wanted to name my daughter Lycopersicon Esculentum (the scientific name for tomato). I could call her Lyco, for short.
Now, back to the book. The main character is Miles Halter, a typical plain-Jack teenager, whose life is just an ordinary day under the sun. He has no interesting anecdotes, no great friends, and generally no life before the novel begins. The only interesting thing about him is that he remembers famous last words. Mine would be, “Huh?” In case you were wondering.
Miles joins a boarding school where he’s bunked with Chip “the Colonel” Martin who christens him “Pudge”. Chip is a troublemaker, and a rebel. They become fast friends.
The titular Alaska is a pretty (obviously), rebellious, and touchy girl who Miles falls in love with. She conjures pranks that are executed by Chip and Miles. She reads (obviously), has a boyfriend, and has many personal problems (as if having a boyfriend isn’t one already).
The story deals with Miles’ insecurities, Chip’s insecurities, Alaska’s insecurities, and other quirks of teenagery. It shows how the characters deal with the loss of loved ones and the significance that person holds in their life. It tells how the characters transition from their happy-go-lucky lives to lives filled with lasting pain.
Sounds pretty deep, doesn’t it? Call me old or boring; but I just don’t understand young adult fiction. Or maybe it isn’t for me. Or maybe my taste is different. Right from Holden Caulfield to Hazel Grace, I am lost. Teenagers are whiney, rebellious, self-absorbed, and irritating; but they can also be smart, and interesting. Every young adult fiction book that I’ve read is about the protagonist complaining, and complaining, and complaining. Other than that all characters talk like Dumbledore and act like they’re wise beyond their years.
I genuinely like John Green. I like his sense of humour. I like the way he hosts Mental Floss on YouTube. He is a likeable person. I cannot say the same about his books. Even though his books have 4-star ratings and great reviews I don’t seem to like them much (I am currently reading The Fault in Our Stars). I am yet to read An Abundance of Katherines, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Paper Towns, and other books of his (I’ll read them for sure); but going by experience I’m not hoping much from them.
Looking for Alaska is a quick read, with likeable characters, and a fast plot; but it’ll not stay with you for long. It’s a template (one of my favourite words) young adult novel. A good one time read.