Looking for Alaska Falls Prey to Problematic tropes and romanticization

Rating: 3 out of 5.

ᴛʜɪꜱ ʀᴇᴠɪᴇᴡ ᴍᴀʏ ᴄᴏɴᴛᴀɪɴ ꜱᴘᴏɪʟᴇʀꜱ. ʀᴇᴀᴅ ᴀᴛ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴏᴡɴ ᴅɪꜱᴄʀᴇᴛɪᴏɴ.

ᴄᴡ: ᴘᴏꜱꜱɪʙʟᴇ ꜱᴜɪᴄɪᴅᴇ, ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ, ᴜɴᴅᴇʀᴀɢᴇ ᴅʀɪɴᴋɪɴɢ, ꜱᴍᴏᴋɪɴɢ, ꜱᴜʙꜱᴛᴀɴᴄᴇ ᴀʙᴜꜱᴇ, ᴄʜᴇᴀᴛɪɴɢ, ꜱᴏᴍᴇ ꜱᴇxᴜᴀʟ ᴄᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ, ᴜꜱᴇ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ ‘ʀ’ ᴡᴏʀᴅ ꜱʟᴜʀ, ʙᴏᴅʏ ꜱʜᴀᴍɪɴɢ, ʀᴏᴍᴀɴᴛɪᴄɪᴢᴀᴛɪᴏɴ ᴏꜰ ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ.

Miles “Pudge” Halter craves of the Great Perhaps. Moving away from his mundane life to a boarding school, Culver Creek, his life becomes anything but boring. When his roommate, Chip “The Colonel” Martin, introduced him to Alaska Young, he’s pulled into her messy, witty, and romanticized life…of death.  

It isn’t my first time reading Looking for Alaska. Something I’ve come to notice each time I read this—and how much I’ve grown in the intervals of each reread, is that Looking for Alaska is the poetic prose of romanticization. John Green has a unique writing style, and I can only describe it as the poetic existence of non-existence. The philosophical musings, intricate thinking, and the great adventures (that honestly are criminal pranks) that these characters wear as their personality carries through the entirety of this book. Even after Alaska’s death, Miles searches for meaning—what her death meant and what happened.

Alaska Young is a book-loving feminist who is aware of her wit, beauty, and self-destructiveness. While Green makes an effort to make Alaska three-dimensional, she ends up feeling more superficial as we look at her through Miles’s eyes and his romanticization of her. She’s a manic pixie dream girl until and after her death. The underage drinking and smoking supposedly make these characters look deep, John Green never fails to romanticize destructiveness—be it lifestyle choices or personality type. Looking for Alaska characters are flawed and raw, sometimes without substance to back up their actions, some forgettable, some inevitably eternal.

Don’t get me wrong—there’s something about this book that makes me appreciate the writing and the woven intricacies. But in the end, it has problematic elements that my critical self cannot overlook.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s