Updated: Apr 6
What's your Greater Perhaps? Do we suffer during or after this path through the labyrinth? What about people's last words?
"Damn it, how will I ever get out of this labyrinth?" Simon Bolivar's last words.
This whole idea of a labyrinth, different from a maze because there is only one path to take, takes us through all the themes in the novel. Here is my book review for Looking For Alaska by John Green.
Our point of view is from Miles, or Pudge (nickname). He lives in Florida with a pretty boring life, but he decides to attend Culver Creek, which is a boarding school in Alabama. His cool trait is he memorizes the last words of people, from presidents to poets to actors. It's one of my favorite additions to the novel because how cool is it to see the real last words of people? It's something I never thought about, the last breathe and sentence someone ever speaks before going cold forever.
Pudge talks about going to Culver Creek because he "wants to seek a Great Perhaps," (also the last words of a poet Francois Rabelais). There he meets the cutest group of friends; Chip or Colonel (nickname), Alaska Young, Takumi (foreign exchange student), and Lara. Everyone in the group has a cute trait, like Alaska reads SO much, Takumi raps and freestyles, and Colonel is kind of like a leader.
This is the first time in Pudge's life where he gets to live and experience new things with a real friend group. They break the rules, pull pranks, smoke a lot, and just go through teenage drama. But it doesn't just stop at petty teenage drama. There's a religious teacher (Mr. Hyde) who they call Old Man, and he's my favorite person in the novel.
The Old Man always teaches some topic that relates to the problems the kids are going through. He asks questions that make you think and you see how the characters think through them as well. His first discussion which really sets the novel is, "how did we come to be and what will become of us when we are no longer?"
Life and death and suffering
AHHH, I love this because life and death. Suffering. What happens after and what's the point of it all? Every human on Earth has questioned this in their lifetimes and the beauty is there is no proven answer. Depending on what you believe, you could think we just die and rot in our graves or we have a beautiful afterlife or we all go to Hell. One thing is for certain: matter and energy.
In Looking For Alaska, as Pudge states, we learned in physics that matter and energy cannot be created and cannot be destroyed. Everything comes from something that was before, hence the circle of freaking life.
I remember watching the Lion King remake and crying because it's true and sad. Death is scary, thinking of what comes after is scary, not knowing is the worst. But when we die, we become grass, animals eat the grass, water runs through that grass and takes pieces of it when it evaporates, we eat the animals and they die, HENCE A CIRCLE.
"Everything that comes together falls apart,"
Another beautiful lesson from the Old Man that just explains the circle of life perfectly. Yeah someone dies and their body eventually rots, but it rots in the soil that in thousands of years, people will build on that soil or grow food from that soil. It's weird to think about but true.
Let's talk about Alaska Young. Unpopular opinion, but she truly pissed me off 9 out of 10 times. Alaska is bipolar and secretive and I know that's why Pudge is attracted to her because he wants to figure her out. Don't get me wrong, I love the way she thinks and when she is happy, she's a lively character. But when she's mad, she shuts down for days and she only gives people what she wants them to know and WHEN she wants them to know. Her mysteriousness turned me off because as a reader, I want to know things.
This novel just has so many themes circled around why we suffer in life and what happens after, and debatable questions. It's great if you want to rack your brain a little. A horrible thing happens where the second half of the book focuses on it and AHHH it just hurt, I felt the pain. I knew the novel was building up to something blowing up but like COME ON.
I would recommend this book and in general John Green's writing is different and refreshing. He's a beyond intelligent person and it is clearly seen through his novels where he'll have more than just plots and characters but include rich history and different religions.
NOW SPOILER DON'T READ PAST THIS IF YOU DON'T WANT THE BOOK TO BE RUINED:
Okay for those who have read the book, like am I the only one that's hurt? I know we can all agree that we saw something happening to Alaska, but I didn't expect the way it happened. I truly thought it was going to be a clear suicide since Alaska was so depressed throughout, but to throw the mystery of suicide or accident or all in between really messed me up. I loved it though. Loved that it mixed with the main ideas of how do we get out of this labyrinth, did she do it on purpose-- straight and fast?
As Alaska said, straight and fast. But others believe we need this suffering, we need to suffer through life to have a Great Perhaps. Others don't know if the suffering of the labyrinth comes during life or after life when we're dead. Either way we all suffer, and there's no answer to how to get out the labyrinth only that WE WILL eventually.
This book, especially the last pages after the prank made me completely fall in love with it. It tied the novel up, it left me with questions I could bear and I loved seeing Pudge get some kind of peace. Also the irony that Pudge never knew her last words but is obbsessed with last words was a stab in the heart.
Thanks for reading everyone! I'll link my Insta page which has short reviews and cute quotes.