When I walked into a local Barnes & Noble, Looking for Alaska was shoved into my face as one of the best reads for people my age. I reluctantly chose it as it was a little out of my genre, but accepted due to all the glowing recommendations it received from the staff. Yet, halfway through, I can’t help but feel that my experience with the book is nothing short of underwhelming.
John Green’s novel follows Miles Halter, or “Pudge” to his friends, who leaves his comfortable life in Florida in search of something more exciting. Pudge moves to Alabama alone, and attends a boarding school where he meets an oh-so-charming Alaska, who is supposed to be a charismatic, beguiling character. However, the reader isn’t shown any background on her until much later, depicting her as a cheating, smoking, drinking, and hypersexualized person, but it’s all good because she’s beautiful.
One could argue that this book has all the makings to establish a meaningful statement on the hardships of teenage years, but so far, the book hasn’t used any of its potential to make any sort of message at all. Instead of using the innocent main character to relate to the readers and communicate an important message, Pudge happily becomes a smoker and an alcoholic, and shows no signs of regret. All the characters in the book cannot be more of a teenage stereotype, being bad influences on one another as well as the reader. This book has all the basis to become meaningful, but so far has struck out.
I sincerely hope that John Green can provide some significance in the second half of the book, as the first part of Looking for Alaska has been slow and shallow. It attempts to touch on important themes, but all is does is encourage stereotypes. However, as I had mentioned, this book does have the makings to become an influential novel, and I look forward to finishing the second half.