Half a Plot:
In the first half of the book, Pudge (not his real name, in case you couldn't figure that one out on your own) heads out to boarding school in Alabama. Up to this point, he has been the fairly friendless geek. He drifts between groups of friends, none of which actually count him as a real friend. Boarding school will be the time for him to make friends, have an adventure, and re-invent himself as someone that is not a loser. He plans to go out into the great unknown. Cool, dude.
On his first night at school, Pudge is kidnapped, mummified in duct tape, and thrown in the lake to drown. That's some pretty serious hazing. It turns out that Pudge is being punished for because the Weekday Warriors, local kids that only stay on campus during the week, believe that Pudge's roommate, the Colonel, had two people expelled at the end of last school year. As far as the Colonel knows, though, none of his friends played any role in the expulsion. None at all.
The Colonel introduces Pudge to Takumi, Alaska Young, and Lara. They all become buddy-buddy.
Pudge starts dating Lara, even though he's totes in love with Alaska. This leads to a super weird scene where Lara and Pudge go to Alaska for an explanation on how to give and receive a blow job. Really? Not that I know or anything, but I thought that giving the first BJ was a matter of instinct and trial and error.
The crew is known for epic prank-age. Their plan is to devise the most epic prank in human history in order to get back on the Weekday Warriors for mummifying Pudge the first night. When it comes to epic prank-age, it's better for you to read about that yourself than for me to tell you about it. Let's leave it at that.
What the hell, John Green?! Do NOT make me go bold and CAPSY on you! I am positively outraged by that shit you pulled in the middle of the book. No. Just no. And I can't even discuss it properly because of spoiler issues.
As soon as I got to the second part of the book, I ran(ted) to tell the roommates. They both have the book on their shelves. I assumed that they would understand and sympathize with me. No. They both go, "Oh, I have the book. But I haven't read it yet." Really? What literary good are you to me then? Get on it. Now.
- The book is divided into 'before' and 'after.' I like that. It's different than the typical plot map. It gives a more complete picture of the dynamics and what-not. I approve.
- The dialog feels very real. Those conversations are real. They could be real. I don't know about the rest of you, but I really liked that it felt like I was reading a conversation between my friends. Only with more pranks and intrigue.
- Alaska has a "Life Library." It's the hundreds of books she's rescued from garage sales and plans to read throughout her life. Me too, Alaska. Me too.
- I hate that Pudge started a relationship with Lara even though he was very much in love with Alaska. I'm not impressed. Especially after you hauled Lara over to Alaska for a lesson in blowjobs. Classy.
- I don't understand being completely obsessed with Alaska. I found a tumblr written by someone referring to herself as the "Young Alaska." Really? This girl had issues. This girl had some serious issues. What is there to romanticize about? Of all the characters out there, you pick Alaska Young?