Looking for Alaska Idealized and sexualized - Review with spoilers

Looking for Alaska – Review with spoilers

Observation: Some people have told me that in your book Miles's nickname is fat, not fat. This was probably some change that only occurred in more recent editions as it is not an aggressive way to refer to someone. 

Miles the nerd in search of a big maybe

"Looking for Alaska” once again follows the John Green pattern of writing where we have a cool girl and a boy who knows little about life. Miles Halter has a friendless and meaningless life when he decides to head to Culver Creek in search of A Big Maybe.

Unlike other similar protagonists such as Quentin, from Paper Cities, Miles Halter is not very engaging and does nothing much. He just has his habit of memorizing the last words of great historical figures, and most of the time he doesn't even know their works, which I think is a huge lack of respect and maybe starts to give us clues about how the our main character: shallow, immediate and futile.

Looking for Alaska far beyond appearances

Alaska Young is an engaging character, and full of depth. A depth that Miles, or rather Bujão, was never able to explore. Beauty, intelligence and charisma – Alaska hides all her sadness behind these things and it takes a long time to realize that she is a deeply sad person.

In the first appearance, Alaska already does something unexpected: he lowers Bujão's pants, the mixture of surprise with the feeling of seeing a free person, instantly arouse the love and curiosity of our not-so-loved protagonist.

A shower of spoilers on Alaska

Exactly what you read, this review will be full of spoilers so it is highly recommended that you read the book first. Due to the nature of the work dividing its time into before and after, it would be impossible to talk about it without addressing its central point: the death of Alaska, and the way his friends deal with it.

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Synopsis: Looking for Alaska

Miles Halter was looking for a Great Maybe. Alaska Young wanted to find out how to get out of the maze. Their lives collided at Culver Creek School, and nothing was ever the same. Miles Halter led a dull, emotionless (or friendship) life in Florida. He had a peculiar taste: memorizing the last words of great personalities in history. One of these personalities, François Rabelais, a fifteenth-century poet, said on his deathbed that he was “in search of a Great Maybe”. In order not to have to wait for death to find his Great Maybe, Miles decides to pack his bags and leave. He goes to Culver Creek School, a boarding school in sunny Alabama. There he meets Alaska Young. In her favorite book, The General in his Labyrinth, by Gabriel García Márquez, she is incessantly searching for an answer: "How am I going to get out of this labyrinth?" Smart, funny, crazy and incredibly sexy, Alaska will drag Miles into his labyrinth and catapult him mercilessly towards the Great Maybe. Miles falls in love with Alaska, even without understanding it, even trying unsuccessfully to decipher the riddle of her emerald green eyes. 

Looking for Alaska

If you want to get the most out of your reading with a super engaging afterword and some excerpts presented the way they were in the first draft of the book, buy the commemorative version, you won't regret it.

Looking for Alaska

How am I going to get out of this maze?

The story has a very strong reflective grip, as is clear both from Alaska's favorite book, The General in His Maze, and from the heavy focus on discussions of religions in Mr Hyde's classes.
Mr Hyde always gets up questions about life and asks students to reflect on how each of the world's three great religions deals with them. 

Culver Creek students are divided basically between Alaskan friends and Monday through Friday warriors. Reflections on life, death, and suffering, based on the world's great religions, are visible only to the group of Alaskan friends, as the rest don't seem to mind.

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Seize the moment, says Mr Hyde

A moment that marks me a lot in history is when Mr Hyde is teaching on Buddhism and Miles is simply observing the beauty of the grass outside the room. Mr Hyde raises the following question: "To appreciate the beauty outside the room, you failed to appreciate the beauty of the moment we were living in here." then put the plug out of the room. Draw your own conclusions about what happened and about being present in the moment. 

Accident or suicide? How Alaska got out of the maze

Alaska saw life as a great labyrinth from which she didn't know how to escape her suffering, which brings us to the central question of the work after the death of our contagious character: accident or suicide?

The truth is, we can never know what actually happened to Alaska that night, but in my mind and in my most terrifying nightmares, Alaska killed itself. It's the only thing I can think of as I remember all the sadness she carried with her, and that no one could see, including our not-so-dear Miles Halter.

Even if it was an accident, driving out in that situation for me could still be characterized as a suicide.

Miles only thinks of one thing

Something that I haven't been able to conform to until today is how much Bujão was egocentric, focused only on his own good and with empathy being a very lacking characteristic. Both on the night of Alaska's death, and afterward, Miles's only thought was his “after,” the continuation Alaska had promised him after their kiss.

Miles is constantly looking for evidence that Alaska was going to break up with Jake, and even tries to twist the facts to get him to believe it. To be able to believe that Alaska was secretly in love with him and that there was going to be one afterward, and then getting irritated and feeling the most hurt by Alaska's death, since he probably wasn't going to get laid anytime soon.

In the end Miles was more concerned with having sex with Alaska than anything else, and that makes me think he's an asshole, but it's worth remembering: almost everyone has been like Miles at one time, an asshole, so stop hitting him .

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Final Thoughts: Thoughts on "Looking for Alaska"

I believe that having been a nerd for most of my life, I identified with Miles in a few moments, even thinking he was an asshole when he finished reading the book. So I'm left with the reflection that it's okay to try to expand your world or look for new things as long as you respect other people's pain.

Alaska was the representation of freedom, and I remembered a lot of people I like as I got to know them better. Alaska openly talks about sex, drinking, enjoying life, death. She is a certain way, accepts and acts accordingly, and honestly there is nothing more charming than someone who lives by her own standards.

Lara got me thinking about how it's possible to be happy without having or doing really extravagant things, and that was amazing. She was probably the most stable person in the group of friends and her charisma enchanted me.

The Colonel and his loyalty to his friends is something to be envied, and I would love to see young people, and perhaps adults, being inspired. Without him I don't know how this story would hold me.

I believe the author made a great job in character development at the beginning of the story, otherwise everything would have fallen apart after Alaska's death. And clearly it didn't. "Looking for Alaska" gains a huge space in my heart, but I'm still waiting for the book that will surpass The Catcher in the Field of Rye.
 
Affectionately
Marcos Mariano

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Marcos Mariano

I'm 30 years old and I'm passionate about games, anime, technology, cryptocurrencies and literature. I currently study Strategic Digital Marketing and kill my time writing anything that crosses my mind.

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