Book Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green {Just Contemporary Review}

Today’s Just Contemporary {Hosted by Basically Amazing Books and Chick Loves Lit} review is Looking for Alaska.  This was a book I read a few months ago and was a bit disappointed in because I’d heard SO many amazing things about it and it just fell a bit flat for me.  Read my review below and hopefully you won’t be wanting to stab me.  Or let me know if you could be one of the few that didn’t absolutely love it.
 Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Details: Paperback, 221 pgs.
Published: March 2005 by Puffin
Reading Level: Young adult
Source: Purchased

Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.
Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green’s arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

Oh dear.  I’m a bit terrified to review this book.  I know that so many people absolutely adore it.  Some of my most favorite authors in the world say they wish they’d wrote this book.  But I’m sorry, I don’t have only good things to say about this book.  I have lots of good things.  But I have some bad as well.  I’m sorry for that.  I know that John Green is brilliant.  Trust me.  I love him.  I love his writing and character development.  But in this book I wished for just a bit more plot to go with the story.  I thought the characters were great.  I just wanted more story with them.  
It took me over a year to pick this book up because I was afraid I wouldn’t like it.  I was afraid my expectations were too high.  And maybe that’s my whole problem.  But when I started reading I didn’t know what it was about.  Any reviews I read were ages ago and I didn’t know what things were leading up to.  I didn’t know what the big ‘event’ was.  And I’m not going to share that with you because I think not knowing made the book better.  And I hope you’ll go into it not really knowing what happens cause I think it’ll catch you by surprise.  It certainly did me.  The thing is, the last half of the book or so is them trying to figure out what, why, how.  And I figured it out right away.  I mean, not everything, but the one detail that took half the book to figure out was obvious.  I guess I grew a bit bored waiting for them to figure it out.
The characters.  
I like Pudge okay.  I didn’t love him or connect with him at all.   But he certainly said some funny things.  Other then that though… well, I don’t really have anything else.
His roommate the Colonel.  Hmmm… he was an interesting dude.  Definitely funny at times.  Not always the nicest guy in the world but he was a good guy.  A good friend.
Alaska.  I didn’t like her.  I knew her.  I mean, I’ve known her.  I had a friend in high school who was her.  Crazy, neurotic, all over the place.  Completely explainable and not someone who could ever really know. My friend committed suicide.  Maybe that made me biased to not like Alaska cause I saw Stacey all over in her.  Yep, pretty sure they were the same freaking person.  
All the characters were a bit crazy and it was more a character driven plot.  But why am I having such a hard time finding the things I liked?  I’m not sure.  I guess I liked this book a bit less then I thought.  I thought it was a 4 star book.  Maybe 3.5.  But I’m leaning toward 3 now.  I liked the book.  There were a few times I laughed pretty freaking hysterically.  Other times I felt a bit bored and toward the end I wanted it to be over already.
These are just my thoughts.  So many people adore this book that it won an award.  So all I can say is, just read it and find out for yourself.
Oh, and I have to send out a warning.  This is a book that has sex talk and ummm… well, other stuff.  Not sex itself though.  There’s also smoking and drinking and bad language.  I think it’s a book that a teenage boy would love and read over and over.  I didn’t mind any of that stuff.  I think it felt real and I appreciated that aspect of it.   Just had to let ya’ll know about that though…
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  1. I’ve had this one on my TBR list for such a long time. I hate writing a review when you didn’t like it that much but everyone else seemed to have. At least I’ll know what to expect. All the gushing reviews don’t point out the not so great stuff.

    Xpresso Reads

  2. Oh dear, I’ve been wanting to read this book so bad for so long! Yours the first review I’ve read that doesn’t go all out gaga over it but I like how honest you are.

    More often than not, high expectations are terrible things. I hope I’m not as disappointed by it.

    And I’m sorry about your friend :(

  3. Since no single book works for everyone, it’s important to write reviews of books that were “misses” for you, particularly when you talk about specific problems you had (as your post does) — for example, that you figured out the what, where, and how, and then the pacing was off for you for the rest of the book. Here’s an interesting contrast: I had figured out the two important twists in Megan Whalen Turner’s THE THIEF right away, yet it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book or its pacing. It’s interesting and useful for me to hear that John Green didn’t achieve that for you.

  4. Sometimes I have issues with hyped books or big books or reading books that I know other people loved. Maybe it’s the expectations that ‘you must love this’ like everyone else has. Having read this one later than most other people, I was nervous too, but I loved it. LOVED it. But I can see the flip side, especially if you saw someone you knew and cared about in a character.

  5. You know, this is kind of how I felt too. I genuinely liked the book and I can see why people think John Green is a genius and I totally plan to read the rest of his stuff, but it definitely wasn’t earth shattering or life changing for me.

    Kinda glad I’m not the only one 😛

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