Book Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for AlaskaLooking for Alaska by John Green

Title: Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green

Genre: YA Contemporary

Number of Pages: 256

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis: Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

Discussion: I was having a very difficult time reading Specials, so I decided to take a break from fantasy and dystopian and read a John Green ConRomCom. I finished it in about seven to eight hours. However, I was driving to my grandparents’ house, so I spent a long while in the car.

Like most of John Green’s books, Looking for Alaska features an average geeky boy who falls in love with a spectacular girl. I recognized parallels to Paper Towns. This book was very spiritual in a way, and it makes you think.

Just like what I did for The Bane Chronicles, I used sticky notes. :) So I shall look at those.

Before we get into those, let me just say that Alaska seemed to me a mixture of Margo from Paper Towns and Stargirl from Stargirl. Very spunky, rambunctious, enjoys pranking, and a knockout.

She turned to me as we made our way through the darkness and said, “When you’re walking at night, do you ever get creeped out and even though it’s silly and embarrassing you just want to run home?”

It seemed too secret and personal to admit to a virtual stranger, but I told her, “Yeah, totally.”

For a moment, she was quiet. The she grabbed my hand, whispered, “Run run run run run,” and took off, pulling me behind her.

This is really the first time we see depth to Alaska. She is not some goddess or queen or otherworldy being. She is human. And she has her flaws. Just like Margo Speigelman. ;)

“…And in my classes, I will talk most of the time and you will listen most of the time. Becuause you may be smart, but I have been smart longer…”

This teacher just cracks me up. XD

“…You know what the capital of Sierra Leone is?”

“No.”

“Me neither,” he said, “but I intend to find out.” And with that, he stuck his nose in the almanac, and the conversation was over.

This is a good introduction to Chip, aka the Coronel, who is Pudge’s [the MC] roommate and friend. He memorizes facts about cities and states in his free time.

“Anyway,” Alaska said to me. “I thought the way he treated you was just awful. I wanted to cry. I just wanted to kiss you and make it better.”

“Shame you didn’t,” I deadpanned, and they laughed.

“You’re adorable,” she said, and I felt the intensity of her eyes on me and looked away nervously. “Too bad I love my boyfriend.” I stared at the knotted roots of the trees on the creek bank, trying hard not too look like I’d just been called adorable.

I SHIP IT. JUST FROM THIS SCENE, I SHIP IT.

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“Why do you smoke so damn fast?” I asked.

…”Y’all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die.”

Is this a hint of suicide? Does she actually want to die? Or is she joking? IDK. AND IT’S KILLING ME!!!

The coach screamed, “You’re bothering my players!”

“THAT’S THE POINT, SHERLOCK!” the Coronel screamed back. The ref came over and kicked him out of the game. I followed him.

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“But why Alaska?” I asked her.

She smiled with the right side of her mouth. “Well, later, I found out what it means. It’s from an Aleut word, Alyeska. It means ‘that which the sea breaks against,’ and I love that. But at that time, I just saw Alaska up there. And it was big, just like I wanted to be. And it was damn far away from Vine Station, Alabama, just like I wanted to be.”

Finding out how Alaska got her name was very fun for me. “That which the sea breaks against” is so beautiful.

This next section has pretty bad language, so I altered it.

“Oh crap did you just diss the feminine gender / I’ll pummel your butt then stick you in a blender / you think I like Tori and Ani so I can’t rhyme / but I got flow like the Ghostbusetrs got slime / objectify women and it’s freakin’ on / you’ll be dead and gone like ancient Babylon.”

So not only is Alaska spunky and unpredictable, she’s a rapping feminist!

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I have a lot more sticky notes, and maybe I’ll talk about them in another post, but for now, I’d like to have a discussion.

Near the end of the book, Dr. Hyde presents his class with a very deep question:

How will you–you personally–ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering?

This labyrinth of suffering, for me, is insecurity. Whether I’m insecure about how I look or what people think of something I say or do or if I have real friends. More suffering: the past, a jumble of people and words and love. The past that creeps up on me every day. Those people I always feel stiff around, because we have a past that we can’t escape from that makes everything awkward.

How will I get out of this labyrinth? Is the only way out what Alaska said: straight and fast?

I know that sometimes the only way to escape this labyrinth, if only temporarily, is to cry or scream or vent. I will break at any given time and just cry, for no reason or too many to name. Maybe if I just ignore what people say, if I just be me without anyone’s criticism or confirmation, I can escape the labyrinth.

In reality, I think there is no end to the labyrinth. You jsut learn how to cope and suffer through it. Even when you die, there will be suffering. Whether it’s missing the living or we’re reborn into another labyrinth, there will be some form of suffering.

We can choose to live trying to escape the labyrinth, forever searching for pure, serene happiness, or we can live our lives to the maximum the labyrinth allows and be happy, even through the suffering. Life isn’t about crying for yourself, alone and secluded–you have to enjoy life and have experiences. You have to experience love and hate and happiness and melancholy.

Looking for Alaska is a good, light read on the surface. But if you look underneath the romantic and lighthearted plot, you discover a philosophical, deep layer that definitely surprised me.

After I finished the book, I sent John Green a tweet.

He still hasn’t replied. :(

Overall, I saw nothing at all wrong with this book and I loved it, even though the ending was shocking.

How will you escape the labyrinth?

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Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green

6442769Paper Towns by John Green

Title: Paper Towns

Author: John Green

Genre: YA Contemporary

Number of Pages: 305

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis: Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…

Discussion: So, I reread this book, because I didn’t review it the first time I read it. [IDK]

You start the book feeling like this:

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La-di-da-di-da, another sweet contemporary John Green book.

Then stuff goes down.

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And there is a freaking DEAD GUY and Margo and Q find him and they are nine years old.

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Okay. Okay. I’m okay. I’m fine. Great. Fine. Yeah. Cool. C-A-L-M.

Let’s talk about the book.

A lot of people have said that John Green’s books are all the same, with some nerdy guy who falls in love with a hot girl. This is my second John Green book, and the first was TFIOS, so I’m not sure what to say about that. But Paper Towns does have the same structure as abovementioned. Q, the nerdy guy, falls in love with Margo, uber-cool, mysterious, perfect popular girl. And his next door neighbor.

The basic plot of the book is trying to find Margo, because she ran away. Q thinks she left behind clues for him.

I actually really liked it.

I thought Q was adorable and headstrong, if a bit of a coward at times. [I have a thing for socially-awkward guys. Especially in books. Like Simon Lewis.] And his best friends we and were hilarious. Radar and his Omnictionary thing was a great little quirk. Ben was kind of…perverted, but still really sweet and funny.

And Margo. Mysterious, queen of school Margo. Super awesome. Super headstrong. All in all, a great character. The supporting girls, Laney and Angelica [although we don’t see much of her], were also really great. Laney was at first really “popular” but she ends up being a major character and quirky.

The one thing that bugged me about this book was how much time was spent searching for Margo. I was kind of like, an we speed this up please? But the book needed a plot.

The last scene. The feels. I was like, kiss already! That last sentence. Oh my gods.

kawaii animated GIF I quite enjoyed this book. Did you? Tell me in the comments below.

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Banned Books Week and Top Ten Tuesday

Thank you to Ava for recommending that I post about Banned Books Week.

This week, Sep. 21-Sep. 27, is Banned Books Week!

What is BBW?

Well, I didn’t know until I looked it up. Here is an overview, straight from their official website.

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. There were 307 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013, and many more go unreported.

This week celebrates the freedom of reading and, mostly, banned books.

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What types of books are considered banned?

Here are the top three reasons for banned books:

  1. Material considered to be sexually explicit.
  2. Material has offensive language.
  3. Material is “unsuited to any age group.”

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What can I do to celebrate BBW?

Most obviously, read! Read anytime you can, to show others that you can read and you are allowed to. No one can tell you not to. [Except maybe your teacher…] And read banned books. You can find a list of challenged authors from the 21st century, up to 2012, here. J. K. Rowling and John Green make the list! Basically, you can read almost any YA book. Because most contain “offensive language.”

You can also participate in some events. If you live in the USA, here is a list of states and their events.

And you can participate in a Virtual Read-Out. More information about that can be found here.

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For TTT, I decided it would be fun to make a list of [in my opinion] top ten books that should be/are challenged. This doesn’t mean I don’t like them; this is for fun!

TTT is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

TTT is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

My Top Ten Banned Books

1. Paper Towns by John Green

2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

4. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

5. Ink by Amanda Sun

6. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

7. Where She Went by Gayle Forman

8. A Dark Sky by Giselle Rocha

9. The Princess and the Pauper by Kate Brian

10. Geek High by Piper Banks

Sorry I didn’t include pictures. I’m too lazy. XD

This post was extra-long!

[Added after a comment I saw.]

I find the whole concept of BBW to be a joke. These books are normal, everyday books that everyone reads. There’s no point of them being banned, in my opinion.

What are you doing to celebrate Banned Books Week? [BTW, I made up the acronym.] And what books are on your banned books list? Tell me in the comments below.

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Why Barns Are Red, Social Media Book Tag, and a Story Starter/Finisher

Hey peeps it’s Saturday and I have some random stuff to share with you…

First, a really interesting video answering a bunch of questions you probably have never thought about. Or maybe you have! And, it’s also by Hank Green. How cool is that?

Next, a tag I saw on Christine the booktuber’s channel, polandbananasbooks (haha, Emily, I saw it before youuu!). I present you, the Social Media Book Tag!

Twitter: What is your favorite short book?

I am going to have to look at my shelf for that one… Ah, here we go, an old favorite. The Summer Before Boys by Nora Raleigh Baskin, a 196-page MG contemporary.

Facebook: A book you were pressured into reading.

I don’t know… OMG!!! I totally forgot. I am so dumb sometimes. Harry Potter!!! Crazy, right? You probably thought I have been fangirling about it since birth. My mom pressured me into reading it, starting in maybe first grade even, and I got around to it in third grade. I can be stubborn… XD

Tumblr: A book you read before it was cool.

See, I don’t know about this one. Harry Potter was written before I was born, so sor-ray! I was a bit late in Percy Jackson. Also TFIOS, Divergent, The Hunger Games… Yeah. Ooh, ooh! There wasn’t much hype when I read Cinder. Or Dork Diaries (don’t judge me!). So, yeah. Those.

Myspace: A book you don’t associate yourself with anymore.

I don’t know. As they say, once a fangirl, always a fangirl. [Haha!!! Yeah, I’m psycho.] I mean, even books I haven’t read in decades, like Nancy Drew and The Magic Tree House I still say, “Oh, I remember those!” and being acting like a huge fangirl and being all nostalgic. I feel like if you’re ashamed of a book, or just are like, “Oh, I totally didn’t read that,” you’re being fake or something. And I don’t like fake.

Instagram: A book you want to model with at all times.

I love looooots of books, so, maybe…all of them? Haha, no. I’d say Harry Potter, because I’m such a fangirl, even though it ended a while ago. And I do love the art. That, or the Lunar Chronicles, because I love those too, and the covers are pretty!

YouTube: A book you want to see turned into a movie.

Oh yes yes yes!!! I think about this all the time. It’s a series, actually. The Heroes of Olympus. If they do a good job on them, instead of the PJO movies. Those were absolutely devastatingly horrid.

Goodreads: A book you recommend to everyone.

I’m not going to choose a super popular, super hyped book, because what’s the fun in that? So I’m choosing The Apothecary by Maile Meloy (it’s her real name!). It is funny, and about alchemy, so science with magic. It’s super cool!

That was the end of the book tag; Christine’s video is here.

I really wanted to post about writing, and what it does for me, so…here it is.

Writing lets me forget everything wrong in my life. Even when I read, the thoughts and emotions still lurk in the back of my mind and I get distracted. But when I write, I just feel the characters. I feel their pain, not mine.

I recently wrote a scene in Nakoma about her practicing throwing her dagger, and although I had a lot going on in my life then, I was able to tune it all out and just write about the feeling of Nakoma arcing her arm back, and throwing the dagger, letting it sink into the tree. It was hypnotic.

Have a great rest of your day; I will leave you with this picture.

What a great way to start/end a story!

TTYL,

Chloe

Chapter Sixteen Has Been Uploaded

Read the title. It’s kind of self-explanatory. The chapter title is actually “Untitled,” mainly because I have no clue what to title it. That’s up to you; once you read the chapter, comment with an idea (or more than one) for the title. Thanks!

Since I’m posting this, you can tell that I have internet. We’re staying in a hotel this afternoon and night and leaving in the morning. The internet is very…temperamental. Recently it disconnected me for no reason!

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Well, bye now. I must force myself to write Nakoma.

Chloe

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a meme I really love! For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s where the blogger (me) gets books (either buying or borrowing) and tells their readers (you!) about them. So, I went to the library today. I had in mind four books that are similar to The Fault In Our Stars (which I’m currently obsessed with; I changed the colors of my braces to the ones on the cover of TFIOS). Unfortunately, the library had none of them! :'( I did put a hold on Looking For Alaska by John Green. BTW, he is one popular dude right now; all of his books at the library are checked out! Go, John Green! But boo me, because I can’t get his books. Anyway, here are the books I got:

DELLA - WIN_20140609_180304The first one, Ink, by Amanada Sun, I’ve seen on WattPad. I believe I’ve read some of it, but it seems pretty interesting.

Number two on the list is Cat in the Mirror by Mary Stolz. It has cat on the cover=my weakness. I just skimmed the synopsis, but the beginning is really good.

Tamora Pierce’s Melting Stones graces the third spot in my mini collection. Basically, anything by Tamora Pierce is amazing. The cover shows an Asian young woman, which I think is great; we don’t have enough multi-cultural books.

The last book is The Art of Flying by Judy Hoffman. It’s about a boy that gets turned into a sparrow and has to get changed back.

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Have you looked at the Google home screen today? If you haven’t, check it out! It’s done by eleven-year-old Audrey Zhang. Click here to learn more.

I got a Pinterest account, too. My username is BecauseILoveYou.

Carpe librum,

Chloe