If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane.
What can I say? Bloggers rule. Thank you guys for making me, almost forcing me, to pick this book up and read it. I don't think I would have got around it so soon, if it hadn't been for the gazillions of reviews I've seen around the blogworld raving about it. They all made it sound like it was a book you wouldn't want to miss, like a really special book. And I have to say it definitely was.
It's the story of Miles, aka Pudge, who decides to leave his old school to enroll at Culver Creek boarding school in search of a "Great Perhaps". He's the kind of guy who'd rather stay in and read a book. He has no real friends, nothing to hold him back, so he embarks happily in this new adventure, which he hopes will change his life completely. And it will.
This book made me wish I had attended boarding school. Before, I had a kind of dated idea of what a boarding school is like: a fearsome institution where children were sent to as a punishment. A lonely, sad, harsh place from which you'd want to run away as quickly as possible.
Culver Creek is quite the opposite. It actually sounds like a rather fun place to study and live in. Surrounded by woods, graced by a lake guarded by a psychotic swan, the campus becomes the stage of carefully-planned pranks and secret binge drinking sessions. But more importantly, it becomes a place where its students learn a lot about life, and not just on books.
The crowd Miles starts hanging out with is not your average teenage gang. Chip, aka The Colonel is something close to a genius, who is paying the school fees with his scholarship. Miles himself has a passion for famous people's biographies and last words. Takumi is a rhyme wizard, who nonchalantly mentions Arthur Miller and Emily Dickinson in his rapping.
And Alaska...Alaska is the most peculiar of all. Full of energy, passion, courage, but also angst and deep deep sadness. She's funny and cool, sexy and unpredictable. She is a master of pranks, and a tireless defender of women's dignity. She has a room piled with books she has collected all her life (The Life's Library), which she keeps for when she's old and boring. But it doesn't mean she doesn't read, despite what she says. She loves Auden and Kurt Vonnegut and Jane Eyre, but her favourite obsession is with Marquez's The General in his labyrinth, because she has her own labyrinth to escape from.
Obviously Miles takes less than a second to fall madly in love with her. And of course she is unreachable, very much in love with her boyfriend and very determined to be loyal to him.
Theirs is a story about friendship, first love, bufriedos and videogames. About the pains of desire and the much deeper pains of loss. It's hard to talk about it without giving away an important part of the story, but it's enough to say that everything that's dealt with, it's done with a profound perception of human emotions and reactions.
John Green's writing is so skillful. He manages to express longing, regret, confusion, anger and jealousy with the most accessible and yet touching language.
I could have written down pages and pages to quote from, but after a while I was too deepened into the story and too moved, between laughters and tears, that I didn't stop to note great passages. What I'd like to share, though, are two of my favourite funny quotes which recruited me instantly into the "John-Green-is-awesome" fan club.
Because although I've mentioned that there's sorrow and pain, there's just as much of fun and laughters:
(Right at the beginning, when Miles has just moved in his new room, shared with The Colonel)
Chip did not believe in having a sock drawer or a t-shirt drawer. He believed that all drawers were created equal and filled each with whatever fit.
(Alaska's response to Miles' complains after being woken up at 6.30 am on a Saturday by her playing a particularly loud video game)
"Pudge", she said, faux-condescending, "The sound is an integral part of the artistic experience of this video game. Muting Decapitation would be like reading only every other word of Jane Eyre..."
There's isn't much more I'd like to say about it. Just that the characterisations where brilliant, the pranks hilarious, especially the very last one, the ending beautiful, and that I loved loved loved it.
ps: I wish I could have a bufriedo right now!
other blog reviews:
The Hidden Side of a Leaf
Eva at Curledup.com
Becky’s Book Reviews
Tiny Little Reading Room
Not Enough Bookshelves
Stuff as Dreams are Made On
The Bluestocking Society
Out of the Blue
Books & Other Thoughts
Nothing of Importance
Care's Online Bookclub
where troubles melt like lemon drops
Stephanie's confessions of a book-a-holic
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