Synopsis: Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy 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. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .
After. Nothing is ever the same
As someone who is an avid reader (and or devourer of novels), I have read a book countless times because people were losing their minds over it. When I was around 11, I read The Fault In Our Stars and fell head over heels for John Green’s cynical humor, easy writing style, and characters.
This, however, was not at the same level.
This was Green’s debut, and I’m sorry to say, it reads like a debut. This book has also not stood the test of time well. It feels like offensive 2005 fiction, which, essentially, is kind of what it is.
Honestly, I feel that there isn’t much of a plot here. It just seems to be, smoke cigarettes, get wine drunk, call Alaska a slut, miss classes, do something stupid, pull a prank, then do it all over again.
It’s okay for books to be more character-driven, but if it is you need to have interesting characters, which these characters are lacking in that area.
Miles “Pudge” Halter is a lacking boy if there ever was one. His character is about as fun as driving a screw into your eye. He knows lots of people’s last words, which is kind of cool, and he is constantly searching for the “Great Perhaps.” He’s easily influenced by Alaska and quickly picks up smoking, and drinking, just because he wants to be good enough for her and wants her to go out with him. Isn’t obsessive love a trope we want to leave behind in the early 2000s? Also, he’s so whiny. The entire book(especially towards the end) he just whines on and on about how he deserves better and how he deserves to be with Alaska and I had to keep myself from chucking the book across the room.
Alaska Young is a disaster, plain and simple. She’s the character I liked the best, and yet, one who I found a massive issue with. Green writes her character to like books and be a feminist while owning her sexuality which sounds awesome! This sounds like a character I’d enjoy reading about. But she seems to be constantly slut-shamed by the other characters, and the way Green writes her is so objectifying. Which it seems very hypocritical to objectify a character who doesn’t like it when people objectify her. And honestly, without spoiling anything, I didn’t feel bad for what eventually happens.
Chip “The Colonel” Martin is Alaska’s best friend and one of the first “main characters” we meet in the story. And honestly, I can barely remember anything about him. I took extensive notes for both books I read, and yet the only thing I was able to retain is that he had a bad relationship with a girl, whose name I can’t remember.
It seems like for a book with such a lack of plot until you’re 80% in, the characters should be a lot more memorable. Not to mention again, some of the things these characters say is incredibly offensive. There are two lines where two different characters are openly making fun of people with disabilities, which knocked at least two stars off of my rating.
Now let’s talk about some good this book had. John Green has a very specific brand of cynic humor that works very well for me, so many times I felt myself laughing at something one of the characters said. I also enjoyed the prank scenes, they just felt very fun and free and encapsulated the rebellious feeling of doing something wrong.
Overall, this book definitely isn’t Green’s best work, and obviously some people are going to love it so much more than I will, but I think it was okay and it flies by quickly(I read it in two days) but it is still quite problematic and I just couldn’t ignore some of that.