My third read by John Green, which I was a bit reluctant to pick after The Abundance of Katherines. I was about to give up as well till I hadn’t crawled to about 140 pages. But after finishing it, I kinda liked it or atleast I don’t dislike it completely!
Narrated by Miles, it’s a story of a bunch of high school friends and their lives at Culver Creek Boarding school. For about 140 pages of the book, which is pretty much more than half of it, its just an account of their routine life with rants about their classes, pranks, smoke and booze sessions and so on. This was the reason I never got interested in it too much.
It’s written in small passages from ‘Before’ and ‘After’ (from a major incident in the book) part. Characters are typical teenagers. Miles is fond of remembering peoples’ last words, amusing hobby he has!! Alaska is beautiful, arrogant and mysterious lot of times. These two along with Colonel and Takumi are the main four characters around which the book revolves. Miles was my favourite character just for its sheer modesty and simplicity. In his own words “If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”
** SPOILER after this **
The first half reminded me of what I felt while reading Perks of Being a Wallflower. I had the same bored expression. But then, it grew a bit interesting after Alaska’s death and the quest by rest of them for the “Great Perhaps” (loved how the author used these BIG words!!). Its was touching to read about how the teenagers deal with loss of their friend and how each of them feel it could have been avoided! I had mixed, ambiguous feelings throughout. It was mundane at times and hard to put down some times and just comforting as well.
It’s a story of friendship, untold love, intense pain & guilt and teenage perception of the worldly things. Loved their ideas about how to figure the way out of labyrinth (which was Alaska’s question in one of the classes). I din’t cry or laugh while reading this but don’t regret it either!
P.S. : I loved the name Alaska which literally means “ that which the sea breaks against” .
“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.”
“When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.”
“Thomas Edison’s last words were ‘It’s very beautiful over there’. I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.”
“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. (…) You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”
“What is an “instant” death anyway? How long is an instant? Is it one second? Ten? The pain of those seconds must have been awful as her heart burst and her lungs collapsed and there was no air and no blood to her brain and only raw panic. What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.”