What’s it all about?:
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. Then 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.
What did I think?:
This is the second John Green book I’ve read, the first being the hyped “The Fault in Our Stars,” which I really enjoyed but had a few teeny issues with. I’m actually still reflecting and trying to collect my feelings on this novel, as it provided me with a mixture of emotions. The story centres around a teenager called Miles, as we meet him he is on his way to boarding school for the first time which was the same one attended by his father. We get the impression that his life up until now has been a bit dull and lacking in something, as only two people turn up to the “going-away party” organised by his parents. Before leaving, his parents warn him about his behaviour and what is expected of him i.e. no drugs, drinking or cigarettes and not to do anything stupid. Hmm, well we can kind of see where this is going?! And, like any normal teenager, he’s bound to break at least one of these rules?
Once at Culver Creek, he makes friends with the Colonel, Takumi, Lara, and the intriguing and incredibly messed up Alaska Young. This is also his foray into the forbidden items of cigarette and alcohol, and a world of pranks against the Weekday Warriors – a group of rich kids that the Colonel despises with a passion. And then…tragedy strikes, and the friends have to pull together in so many ways, that Miles finally feels like a “somebody,” and more importantly, finds what he seems to have been searching for.
The story almost felt like a book of two halves to me, the “Before” portion was good, and meandered along at a nice pace, but I felt the book only took off once I reached the “After” half which completely gripped me and is the reason for my rating. I really loved all the characters, and felt they all individually brought something to the story as a whole. I found Lara absolutely hilarious, with her Romanian accent-altering words: “I’m not keeding, take off your clothes!” The character of Alaska was fascinating, and I was curious throughout to try to understand her sadness and despair. There is a lot of sadness in the book, but I thought the author dealt well with this and a number of other themes including religion, spirituality, forgiveness and teenage angst. The book ends on a poignant note, and leaves the reader an interesting message – how do we escape the labyrinth?
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):