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“Looking for Alaska”: Is it worth the hype?

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“Looking for Alaska,” John Green’s Printz Award winning, bestselling novel is being adapted into a mini-series on Hulu. The first episode is to be released Oct. 18 of this year. I have no idea how good the show is, but this is what I think of the book it’s based on. 

Before: Miles Halter’s life is turned upside down when he goes to Culver Creek Boarding school for multiple reasons. First, he’s moving from Florida to Alabama, which introduces him to the unique sort of heat only present 15 miles south of Birmingham, AL. Second, his roommate, Chip Martin (aka the Colonel) enjoys teasing and mocking the Eagle, the teacher in charge of making sure the students aren’t breaking any rules. Third, Alaska Young. 

Alaska Young: the hot, clever, witty, screwed-up firecracker of a human who lives in a room by herself several doors down from Miles and the Colonel. Her self-destructive tendencies draw in Miles, who becomes known as Pudge simply because the Colonel enjoyed the irony of the nickname and the Colonel himself. 

Pranksters through and through, Alaska and the Colonel constantly play pranks on the Weekday Warriors, the rich kids who board at the Creek during the week then go home over the weekend. In an effort to out-prank the Weekday Warriors, Alaska, the Colonel and Pudge pull an extravagant prank that towers above all others. 

One night after the prank to end all pranks, while Alaska and the Colonel are smoking, drinking, and overall, doing things that would definitely get them in trouble with the Eagle, Alaska suddenly starts freaking out and leaves her room in a hurry, puzzling the Colonel and Pudge. Of course, her rushed exit doesn’t bother either of the boys enough to stop her and calm her down. 

After: The boys and the rest of their fellow students are called to the gym the morning after Alaska fled in a hurry for an important announcement from the Eagle. 

 After that moment, nothing is ever the same. 

For the longest time, I avoided reading any of Green’s books because I believe that, when books are super hyped up and everyone is reading them, the quality of the book becomes distorted. In this case, I believe that’s partially true; this book is a little over-hyped.

The characters aren’t very well-rounded and thought out. They all only show one side of their personality. For instance, Alaska is known for being unpredictable, Pudge is really known for his obsession with people’s last words, etc. I feel like, if the reader was shown another side of some of these characters, they’d be more likable.

The writing of the book itself was okay. Personally, I think that Green focuses too much on the philosophical side of his books instead of writing well-developed plots and characters. Towards the end of the book, I kept finding myself asking, “So what? Why does this matter in the overall scheme of the story?”

After I finished this story, I sat there astounded by the profundity of the ending. But then I started to think of the semantics of it all and some parts just didn’t make sense to me. 

What I liked about it: I thought the before and after format was intriguing. It gave the reader a sense of time passing before and after the climax of the story. Since the books starts with “one hundred thirty-six days before”, I found myself asking, “Before what?” and that compelled me to keep reading. I also enjoyed the banter between the characters. There were parts where I outright laughed because of things they said. 

This book is good for fans of realistic fiction, with real characters and events that could potentially occur. I think people who like stories about hopeless love too little, too late would also enjoy this story. Really, anybody could read and enjoy this book if you’re not really picky about the development of characters. 

Overall, I give it 3.25/5 stars.

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