Thursday, January 10, 2008

Looking For Alaska- Review and Interview

Looking For Alaska
Michael L. Printz Award
Author: John Green
Reviewer: Kurtis

Miles Halter is completely bored. He’s got nothing to look forward to when he gets out of bed in the morning. Everything about his life is completely normal. Who wants to be normal? After thinking all this he decides he wants to move to a different school where he just might find the “Great Perhaps.” These are the last words of a poet named Francois Rabelais. Miles always had a knack for knowing people’s last words. When miles moves to Culver Creek Boarding School he meets some people that will change his life forever. Alaska Young is the most interesting person he will ever meet. As his year progresses and she shows him more and more about the Great Perhaps and what life really has to offer, he realizes that he is in love with her. This is a truly inspiring story that captivated me from the very start. It showed me that life isn’t just one big boring routine until you die. Life can have a meaning and everybody can have a purpose, but this is only possible if you make it that way. Looking for Alaska is just an amazing story. It is a book that must be read.

Author Interview: John Green

Kurtis: I read in your bio that Looking for Alaska has been acquired by Paramount and Josh Schwartz, and they are working on a screenplay. Who do you think would make up an ideal cast for Looking for Alaska?

John: I think the ideal cast, honestly, would probably be a bunch of people we've never heard of before. I mean, there aren't a lot of big names in Hollywood who are actual teenagers or who can convincingly portray actual teenagers, you know? I do think Ellen Page (from JUNO) would make a lovely Alaska.

Kurtis: Some authors compile soundtracks of music to listen to that inspire them when they write a certain story. Did you have any music that you listened to when writing Looking for Alaska? If so what was it?

John: At that time in my life, I was listening to a lot of bluegrass and old time country music--artists like Doc Watson and Bill Monroe and Hank Williams. There were actually a couple references to bluegrass music in early versions of "Alaska," but they were eventually revised out. When I am writing, I often listen to music when I begin a day, but then I take the headphones off after a little while because it begins to distract me from the work.

Kurtis: I haven't read An Abundance of Katherines yet so I can't pick a favorite, but you can. Does one or the other stand out for you as being a "better" book or more important to you somehow?

John: Not really. I've heard it said before that trying to pick between your books is like trying to pick between your children. I don't have kids, but I suspect that's probably true. Certainly, "Alaska" stands out to me because it was my first novel, and it was in many ways a very personal book. And "Katherines" means a lot to me because it's concerned with love and friendship, and I wrote it during a time of my life that was just full-to-bursting with love and friendship.

Kurtis: I saw that when you were a kid, you aspired to be an oligochaetologist, aka earthworm scientist, and failed. Was the tragedy of killing off your entire earthworm farm hard to overcome? Have you been able to use that experience in your writing?
John: It's true that I once wanted to be an oligochaetologist (I still think that's a great word), and that I eventually abandoned this career when I was about eight years old and somehow all the earthworms in my earthworm farm died. I don't remember being particularly traumatized by the mass extinction; I was just frustrated. I don't know that I've used the experience in my writing in any direct way, but now that you mention it, I am interested in the dreams that we discard in adolescence and the reasons we discard them.

You to can try your hand at being an oligochaetologist:

(Learn how to make your own here!)

Kurtis: You mentioned in your bio that you enjoy Nintendo. What systems do you own and what are your favorite games?

John: In the past, I've owned an NES, a Super Nintendo, an N64, and a Gameboy. I now have a DS and a Wii. Pretty much the only game I play on the wii is Wii Sports, because it's super fun and my wife and I mostly play together. On the DS, I like to play FIFA Soccer.

Kurtis: In a recent video blog you said you're not fond of commercialized Christmas. You said you didn't like the dead tree thing but you like ornaments. Where do you hang them?

John: We have them on an artificial tree. Which I guess is technically a "dead tree thing," but it is not dead in the sense of having-once-been-alive.

Kurtis: While researching before this interview I found a ton of interviews that you have done. It is a challenge to try and come up with questions that you haven't already answered. Is there any question that hasn't been asked that you wish someone would ask? If so, what is it and what is the answer?

John: I can't really think of anything in particular. It is always a pleasure to see the questions that people come up with, and even if they are not new questions, the phrasing is often different, which makes me think about the question differently and may help me to better understand my answer. Anyway, I enjoy answering questions because it makes me think a little about the work I do and the reasons I do it.

Kurtis: Here are a few easy ones you might not have been asked before:

Fast food or fine food?
Fine food, although I do find the price of fast food rather alluring.

Coke or Pepsi?
I don't drink caffeine, so Sprite (which is a Coke product).

Vanilla or Chocolate?

T-shirt or polo?
Well, I was fervently opposed to polo shirts on the grounds that they're "preppy" and "country clubby" for many years. And then the day before my wedding, my mom and I were at a department store and she bought me a couple polo shirts, and they are amazingly comfortable. Still, I wear t-shirts more often.

Loafers or tennis shoes?
Tennis shoes.

Hot or cold?

Night owl or early bird?
Definitely a night owl

Thanks for the excellent questions, and for reading "Alaska!"

Thank you, Mr. Green for taking the time to answer our questions!

Find out more about John Green by checking out his other Author interviews around the web.
For a great starting point visit:

Seven Impossible Things: John Green Interview

There is an awesome list of other interviews on her site as well.


Anonymous said...

Great interview, Kurtis!

Anonymous said...

Awesome interview!!! :-D


Anonymous said...

I learned so much about John Green that I didn't know, and I knew quite a bit...being a nerdfighter.
Thanks for this most excellent interview!!!!

thatgirlygirl said...

Most excellent indeed!
Love ALASKA. Loved the interview.

Lisa Schroeder said...

Yay Kurtis - fantastic interview!

Can't wait for PAPER TOWNS!!!

Anne Marie said...

Great job, guys!

Emily Marshall said...

Great interview!!!

Anonymous said...

John Green is easily the best person alive. Well, not really, but he's up there. Therefore, this post absolutely reeked with fawesomeness.

*does nerdfighter salute*

John Green luuurvingly yours,
In the Fog,
Kiri Vehemens