Looking For Alaska Journal Essay

“Looking for Alaska” – John Green
About The Book & Expectations
I chose the novel “Looking for Alaska” by John Green, because I already read a reading sample in my English lessons in Germany from this book and I really liked the style of writing the author used. I also chose this novel, because many of my friends said it was a good book and worth reading, besides the fact, that the book is well-known for some of its quotes (“If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane”) and the awards it won (Michael L. Printz Award). The author is also known for his book “The fault in our stars”, which is another one of his four books. I expect the book to be dramatic, realistic, provocative and maybe even opinion-changing, but most of all I expect it to be good, because after all the talk about it I had with friends, I’m really excited to read it. About the Content

The story starts in Florida, where Miles Halter, the central character, lived his whole life. After the first twelve pages, the setting already changes to a boarding school in Alabama called “Culver Creek”. It’s not really obvious if story happened in the past, present or future, but after doing some rereading I found out it must have all happened 2004/2005 (p. 250 ? Alaskas mother died on 10th January 1997, p.258 Alaskas mother was dead for eight years that day). Structure

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The whole story is told in a linear structure, the progress shown at the beginning of the chapters, that don’t have names but count the days before and after Alaskas death (starting at “One hundred and thirty-six days before” and ending at “One hundred and thirty six days after”), which means that the book consists of two parts, which are named “Before” and “After”. Characters

The main characters of this book are Miles Halter (“Pudge”), Chip Martin (“The Colonel”) and Alaska Young. Miles Halter is the young man, from which perspective we are getting told the story. His opinions and thoughts are shown to the reader completely, which makes him look like a good and intelligent person. The description of him being “skinny” (p. 21) fits
perfectly to his at first shy and boring character, which turns into somebody who lives up his life while reading the book. I think Miles Halter is a character that any reader would like, because it is easy to identify with him, getting into a new environment and trying so much new. Everybody had times, where they tried something new so it’s easy to feel with “Pudge”. Chip Martins’ real name is almost never used in the book. Already when you are introduced to him as a reader, you can see, that he likes to take over control and act as a leading person. Even though sometimes he has the habits of a bad person, a teenager that lost control over his own life, like smoking and drinking a lot, he figures out to be really loyal and intelligent. This makes a mixture of characteristics that would be confusing together easily, but it seems natural instead. As a reader you at last start liking “The Colonel”, when “Pudge” starts to like him, but I personally liked him right from the beginning, because he is confident and provocating. The character that Miles’ story is actually all about is Alaska Young. She’s a girl that already got to know much pain in her life, when she lost her mother. But this is not the thing that you know about her until page 145. You get to know her as moody. Sometimes she seems really funny and happy, sometimes she stars being angry out of nowhere, or even deeply depressed. Also, she is described as “hot” and “curvy” (p. 22) right at the beginning and later on as “pretty” or “beautiful”. She’s also adventurous and likes taking risks and all this together made her seem mysterious and interesting. Other important characters are Takumi, Lara and Mr. Starnes (“The Eagle”), as well as Dr. Hyde (“The Old Man”). Takumi is another friend of Miles and Alaska that is involved in some parts of the story. Lara is Miles’ girlfriend for one part of the book and later on a member of the group. “The Eagle” is the really mean teacher, that nobody likes and everybody is afraid of and he is good at finding out, when students are breaking rules. Dr. Hyde is the Religion teacher and Miles’ describes him as a genius. He makes Miles think about Life and Death, which brings a little bit of Philosophy into the story. Themes

I think there are two major ideas behind this story. The first one is really obvious, especially in the end of the book: People shouldn’t ignore death as a topic. It helps to talk about it. It helps, if we have our own fantasy of
what happens after someone passed away. But that Alaska would pass away was not obvious for the first half of the book, so for me personally I found another idea behind the story: You should make something out of your life. Live it at its’ fullest. Go and find “The Great Perhaps” that Miles Halters has been looking for, when he came to boarding school. After reading

The book made me think a lot about the way, people react to other people deaths, and how I reacted, when someone I knew died. I absolutely agree, with the theme in this book, that people should stop avoiding the topic death. Also the book got me interested into Religion, which nobody before ever really managed, but the way Religion was explained in this book and the way the student characters in the book got taught about it fascinated and inspired me. Especially the ending was interesting for me, where Miles Halter answered the question that Alaska once asked him in his essay for his Religion class: “How will we ever get out of that labyrinth of suffering?” I think the author was very successful with this story and expressing his intention when writing it. I would absolutely recommend it to everybody because the theme is meaningful and worth thinking about. But due to my small experience with recommending books, I would say that mostly girls and people who like to think about more meaningful things or Religion would like this book.