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Book Review: Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green
Published: 2006
Publisher: Speak
Number of Pages: 256
My Rating: 5

Summary from
Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
After. Nothing is ever the same.

After previously reading John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (and loving it) I knew that I enjoyed his straight-forward writing style as well as admired him for daring to tackle deep subjects that other authors would stray away from when writing for teens. But, I will admit, I was slightly reluctant to begin reading Looking for Alaska as there was so much hype about it and I was worried I might be disappointed. Well, I wasn’t. Green has done it again.

The main character, Miles "Pudge" Halter, is just a regular teen who is looking for the “Great Perhaps”, aka some exciting experiences that will give his life meaning and hope. The story begins and he basically hates his current teenage life. He doesn’t have very many friends and he doesn’t have any crazy stories to tell. So he begs and convinces his parents to send him to Culver Creek Boarding school, where if he’s lucky, he can discover his “Great Perhaps”.

He quickly meets his roommate, named The Colonel, who is lovingly obnoxious and introduces him to the world of booze, cigarettes, and a girl named Alaska. Alaska Young is mesmerizing and addicting; basically the girl of Miles’ dreams. The friends study, play pranks, blow off steam, and get into mischief, all while Miles falls in love with Alaska (who loves her boyfriend). Together, along with some other great characters, their journey begins and Green takes us on an exhilarating ride in which you will relive being a teenager and Miles finally gets a taste of the life he has hoped for all along.

As a reader, I was aware the characters were on their way to something life-changing, as the chapters countdown the days, “Fifty-six days before”, “Ten days before”, until arriving at “The Last Day”. They then begin to count up, “The Day After”, “Twelve days after”. I loved the Before/After part of the book, as it was a unique tool that created plenty of intrigue and suspense to see what was going to happen.

This book totally caught me by surprise. I figured it was going to be another coming-of-age tale about characters falling in love and growing in themselves and the world around them. What I found, however, was a very mature novel that explored plenty of different themes and questions, some funny and humorous while others extremely serious and deep.

I don’t want to give any more hints about what happened in this book, and I recommend that if you haven’t yet, don’t read a bunch of other reviews about it as you don’t want any of the surprise to be ruined. Just read the book. You will enjoy it.

-Busy Brunette


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