WARNING: This post contains spoilers to the book Looking for Alaska by John Green.
Recently, I’ve been reading Looking for Alaska by John Green. When I started reading this book, I did not anticipate all the events that would happen. This book starts off with a boy named Miles (nicknamed Pudge) who transfers to a boarding school in Alabama called Culver Creek. In this school, he meets a group of friends named Chip (nicknamed the Colonel), Takumi, Lara, and Alaska, the girl who gives off the greatest impression of all. Upon meeting this group of friends, Pudge experiences things he’s never done before. These experiences include (but are not limited to): getting drunk, smoking, pulling pranks, watching porn, and getting a blowjob. Each time I read these moments, I felt slightly embarrassed. Each of these experiences were somehow connected to Alaska, which is what makes her character impressionable.
Alaska Young is strong character in the book. There are many times, where she is the leader for daring activities and does everything on impulse. However, there are times where she shows signs of weakness. There was one time in the book, where she starts sobbing for an unknown reason. She starts spewing words towards Pudge about how everyone uses fear as an excuse and that it’s not a good enough excuse. Of course, Pudge (nor I) could not understand what she meant by “everyone.” From what I could tell, Alaska had some kind of deep regret that happened in the past that involved fear.
And certainly so, Alaska did turn out to be involved in her mom’s death. Alaska shares a story about how when she was small her mom took her out on June 9, 1997 to the zoo to see the bears. However, the day after, her mom started having convulsions. Alaska shares that she knew that the best thing to do was to call 911, but she couldn’t. She was just too scared. Afterwards, her mom stopped moving and passed away from an aneurysm. Her father came back and when he found out, he screamed “Why didn’t you call 911?” I think that this experience caused Alaska to change. She no longer hesitates. Instead, she becomes impulsive due to her past. She no longer wants to use fear as an excuse.
This impulsiveness draws Pudge into Alaska’s world. He falls deeply in love with her. They even make out with each other in a dare on a drunken night. When they finish their passionate kissing, Alaska says, “This is so fun, but I’m so sleepy. To be continued?” And she falls asleep on top of Pudge’s chest. As she sleeps, Pudge whispers, “I love you, Alaska Young.”
However, later that night, Alaska realizes something and frantically tries to drive out of the campus. She asks the Colonel and Pudge to distract the school dean, a.k.a. the Eagle, so that she can leave. She wasn’t being clear about why she needed to leave, but she was certainly in some sort of emergency. Of course, they weren’t thinking and they let Alaska drive off drunk in the middle of the night.
The next day, Pudge finds out that Alaska had gotten into a terrible accident that night and died. This very part of the book made me cry so much. Pudge keeps mourning for Alaska’s death throughout pretty much the rest of the book and he begins to blame himself for letting her go. He keeps repeating Alaska’s words to himself, “To be continued.” The focus of the book begins to shift onto where Alaska was headed that night. While I was reading, I began to understand that this section of the book was actually about “looking for Alaska” and understanding her actions. However, the search was not all that easy and Pudge was beginning to lose faith and was in this denial about Alaska and their little affair. However, Pudge learns to let go a little and finally does one final prank on the school as a commemoration to Alaska. On Speaker Day, Pudge and Colonel planned a prank where they switched out the speaker for a male stripper named Maxx, who took off his clothes and danced in the school gym. When the other speaker comes up, he asks them, “Was it you?” and they just reply, “No. It wasn’t us. It was Alaska.”
Afterwords, Pudge, Colonel, and Takumi figure out that Alaska died trying to go to her mom’s grave because she had forgotten that it was January 10, the day she died. When they realize this, they all mourn one more time and decide to finally let Alaska go.
When I read this book, I felt so many type of emotions: embarrassment, happiness, confusion, curiosity, and, last but not least, sadness. I thought that this book was very analytical about one character. It made me dive deep into Alaska Young and it gotten me looking for Alaska as well. Although Alaska is dead, I do believe her words, “to be continued,” are true. She completely changed Miles to what everyone knows as Pudge. Despite not being alive, her essence still lives within everyone, especially Pudge. “To be continued” indeed, Alaska.