Sunday, February 10, 2008

Looking for Alaska by John Green

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (December 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142402516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142402511
  • List Price: $7.99
  • I finished this book on Feb. 9
Okay, I will give you the shortest review of this book ever so that I may talk about what's really pissing me off: the shenanigans surrounding it right now.
Review: Miles asks his parents to go to a boarding school so he may search for the "Great Perhaps." Miles collects famous last words (awesome). He meets a diminutive boy with anger management issues (The Colonel) and a gorgeous free spirit (Alaska) who is the kind of girl boys like Miles fall in love with in books like these. What makes it unique is that the characters are amazing and interesting and flawed. Reading Miles' thought provoking essay at the end is enough of a gift to take away with you and you're just lucky you get to have the rest of the book. It's beautiful and sad and important and that's all I'm going to say because you should just go read it.
The shenanigans: It began with me seeing this:

First of all: that's big time bad ass. Huge. I, of course, 100% agree with this and I am rightly fired up over it. Also: Depew is in my neighborhood-ish but no, I couldn't go to the meeting (which is probly a good thing, because I believe I would have been kicked out due to cursing at people or thrown up because this makes me so angry I could puke).
Go here to read the write up of the meeting in the Buffalo News (this link won't be good forever because the archives aren't free). Seriously: the cancer quote makes me want to stab out that guy's eyes and piss in his ocular cavity.
Yes, there is swearing it the book. There is swearing in shitty rap music too, and I promise the kids listen to that. Yes, there is talk of a blowjob. I personally do not think the scene in question is that graphic and Mr. Green is correct in saying that it is not in the least titillating.
I work in a high school and I have ears. Therefore I think I am qualified to say that the things they say to each other are a hundred times more obnoxious than anything printed here. And I know plenty of them who would benefit from/appreciate/love this book. Kids are smarter than we think, folks, and pretending they aren't is a shitty plan (and yes, the view is nice from my soapbox, thanks).
Not to mention that this book is an ALA Printz award winner and that they actually hand out teaching guides to go along with them (though they contain hateful spoilers).
In searching more for info about John Green I have discovered that his awesomery goes even further. Exhibit one: his website. Cool links to anagrams, book info and his blog. You should stop reading this blog and add his to your RSS feeds. Go ahead, I'll wait. Exhibit two: Nerdfighters, and Brotherhood 2.0. Brotherhood 2.0 is a year long vlog exchange between Green and his brother (Oddly, I had heard his brother's Accio Deathly Hallows before and not known the story behind it). This vlog also inspired an entry into Urban Dictionary, another badge of coolness. DFTBA, which means, "Don't forget to be awesome."
Extra thanks to Eli for letting me in on all of this via Twitter :)
Moral of this blog:
I loved Looking for Alaska, and I have a crush on John Green. Also: book banners can suck my balls.


Anonymous said...

"where they have burned books,they will end in burning human beings" heinrich heine.chimpdeamon (btw loved the waiting for godo example)

kalafudra said...

I love the picture...
Seriously, as soon as people ban books, I'm off reading them. *evilgrin*

The book sounds really nice.