Book Reviews of Looking For Alaska

Looking For Alaska
Looking For Alaska
Author: John Green
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ISBN-13: 9780525475064
ISBN-10: 0525475060
Publication Date: 3/3/2005
Pages: 160
Rating:
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 53

4.3 stars, based on 53 ratings
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

41 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 71 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
Excellent read. Makes an older adult feel young and helps understand the experiences many youth are now going thru as we did as young adults. Michael Printz Award for excellence in Young Adult Literature - American Library Association

Not just for the young, but the middle age and old as well. A great read.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 7145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Reviewed by Me for TeensReadToo.com

Miles Halter is the type of high-schooler who always faded into the background at his public school in Florida. He had few friends, by choice as much as by fate, and wanted only to study his passion--memorizing the last words of people who had died. After reading the dying words of poet Francois Rabelais, "I go to seek a Great Perhaps", Miles is convinced that there's more to life than what he's so far experienced.

So Miles sets off to spend his junior and senior years at Culver Creek, a private boarding school in Alabama. There he gains his first nickname "Pudge" (a misnomer, by far, since Miles is quite skinny); meets his first love, Alaska Young; has his first sexual encounter with a Romanian girl named Lara; and gains two great male friends, Chip "The Colonel" Martin and Takumi Hikohito. He also experiences the joys and sickness of getting drunk, the strangeness of smoking cigarettes, and the unadulterated pleasure of playing pranks.

Pudge's new group of friends have their own quirks--The Colonel memorizes countries, capitals, and populations; Alaska collects books for her Life's Library that she hasn't yet read; Takumi relishes being The Fox. They all work together to irritate their teachers, avoid confrontation with The Eagle, the school's dean, and pull off pranks against the rich Weekday Warriors that are the popular clique at Culver Creek.

But LOOKING FOR ALASKA is mostly the story of growing up, of falling in love, of dealing with loss, and getting through life as best that you can. With wonderful dialogue, fascinating prose, and characters that are so real you'll think you know them personally, this is a book well worth reading. Not just is it the story of a group of teenagers looking to find their way out of the labryinth of loss, or just the story of finding our Great Perhpas, LOOKING FOR ALASKA is about living the best life that can be led.

I loved this story, and highly recommend it. Once you do, you'll realize it's no surprise that it won the Teen's Top 10 Awards--in fact, it probably deserves more.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on
Helpful Score: 4
Looking For Alaska is one of the books that I would consider a find in a lifetime. I first saw this book for 2 dollars at a store and decided to try it out. Within the first sentence, I was hooked. The story of Pudge and his rag tag team are one in which anyone can relate to. Their life at the boarding school is one that seems like any teenage life. They have fun, break rules, believe that they already know enough to survive in the world and exhibit a vast range of emotions.
When I searched this book on this website, I was surprised by how many people where wishing for it. I have never meet anyone who knew this book. I truly do not want to give up this book but I might put it up so others can enjoy a story I truly teasure.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I read this book because one of my brother's friends told me it was her favorite. (I like reading other peoples' favorites.) To be honest, I really didn't like the book. I thought maybe it would pick up. I'm sure it is geared more towards the angsty teen than an older-than-twenty adult. Maybe I wasn't in the right mindset when I read it, but I thought it was so slow, maybe a little boring, and the end frustrated me. Sure, I will continue reading John Green , but not this book again.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 21 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Everyone has it: that one event in their life where the years surrounding it can clearly be defined as "Before" and "After". Welcome to the recount of Miles' Before and After.

Looking for Alaska is a wonderful first novel from John Green. It has been called a "modern day Catcher in the Rye", but it is so much more. It's more likable, more applicable (if that's even possible), and just as poignant of a read. In this novel, join Miles as he leaves his Florida home and regular high school for an Alabama boarding school in search of his "Great Perhaps". At his boarding school, he is immediately surrounded by a diverse group of kids--friends-- who experience life at its best and worst: loves, losses, pranks fit for the history books. It's a book that will have you laughing on one page, and crying ten pages later.

As far as coming of age novels go, this one should not be missed.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on
Helpful Score: 1
This book reminded me of everything that was wonderful and terrible about coming of age. Beautifully written, and heart-wrenching at times.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
It's kind of hard to review this book without spoiling it, so I'll say first that it's another one of John Green's best. The story follows a group of boarding school kids, all of whom are both incredibly intelligent and incredibly stupid at the same time. Narrating this story is Miles "Pudge" Halter, but the focus of this story is Alaska Young, a beautiful and troubled young girl who no one can quite figure out . . . not even her. Essentially, this is a book of a year's worth of experiences. It will make you laugh uproariously and cry heartily, and it will make you think about how we spend our lives and what friendships really mean. Absolutely everyone who's ever been a teenager should read this book.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 7145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Reviewed by Me for TeensReadToo.com

Miles Halter is the type of high-schooler who always faded into the background at his public school in Florida. He had few friends, by choice as much as by fate, and wanted only to study his passion--memorizing the last words of people who had died. After reading the dying words of poet Francois Rabelais, "I go to seek a Great Perhaps", Miles is convinced that there's more to life than what he's so far experienced.

So Miles sets off to spend his junior and senior years at Culver Creek, a private boarding school in Alabama. There he gains his first nickname "Pudge" (a misnomer, by far, since Miles is quite skinny); meets his first love, Alaska Young; has his first sexual encounter with a Romanian girl named Lara; and gains two great male friends, Chip "The Colonel" Martin and Takumi Hikohito. He also experiences the joys and sickness of getting drunk, the strangeness of smoking cigarettes, and the unadulterated pleasure of playing pranks.

Pudge's new group of friends have their own quirks--The Colonel memorizes countries, capitals, and populations; Alaska collects books for her Life's Library that she hasn't yet read; Takumi relishes being The Fox. They all work together to irritate their teachers, avoid confrontation with The Eagle, the school's dean, and pull off pranks against the rich Weekday Warriors that are the popular clique at Culver Creek.

But LOOKING FOR ALASKA is mostly the story of growing up, of falling in love, of dealing with loss, and getting through life as best that you can. With wonderful dialogue, fascinating prose, and characters that are so real you'll think you know them personally, this is a book well worth reading. Not just is it the story of a group of teenagers looking to find their way out of the labryinth of loss, or just the story of finding our Great Perhaps, LOOKING FOR ALASKA is about living the best life that can be led.

I loved this story, and highly recommend it. Once you do, you'll realize it's no surprise that it won the Teen's Top 10 Awards--in fact, it probably deserves more.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 119 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is the best young adult book I've ever read. I liked it much more than The Fault in Our Stars. This one is sad and tragic in it's own way but that's not what the entire story is about. I love how the narrator "collects" people's last words. That's such an interesting part of someone's life and legacy that I'd never considered before. I also appreciated the Buddhist philosophies that are sprinkled throughout the book because they go along with the narrator's "Great Perhaps" and emphasize the transition he made going to boarding school. I would recommend this book to anyone! The only other observation I had is that there was a lot of cursing/drinking/sex for a young adult book so if you're considering letting your child read it, maybe read it yourself first!
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 90 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I found this book to be very boring. I could barely finish it.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on
Helpful Score: 1
Don't expect anything less than awesome. Thoroughly enjoyed this book and fell in love with all of the characters. Wonderfully written.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 380 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Summary:
Miles is getting ready to head to boarding school at Culver Creek in Alabama. He didnt feel like he was fitting in with his public school, and he wanted something different. His passion was reading biographies and memorizing peoples last words. One of his favorites is from a poet who talked about the great perhaps. Miles wants to search for that perhaps while he is still living. In order to do that, he wants to start somewhere new. The first thing he notices about boarding school is that the dorm is nothing like he imagined it to be. This was just a plain box with no air conditioning. How could you have no air conditioning is the blistering heat of Alabama? He tries to cool down by taking a cold shower, but the shower head only hits about his chest and barely dribbles any water. When he gets out with a towel wrapped around his waist, he meets his roommate, Chip. From this instant on, the nicknames become the characters more than their true names. Chip is the Colonel and Miles becomes Pudge (because hes so skinny). The Colonel introduces Pudge to Alaska (thats her real name). Alaska is beautiful, but has a lot of issues. This begins the immersion into their high school lives. They have pranks pulled on them, go to class, go to basketball games (and get kicked out), smoke, drink, and try to figure out relationships. Pudge is hopelessly in lust with Alaska, but she is faithful to her boyfriend. The group plans a major prank and it is a huge bonding experience where we find out all types of secrets, but then a tragedy strikes that slices through the hearts of everyone (including the reader). The rest of the novel is about dealing with that tragedy.
My thoughts:
This is the best book of the summer for me. I dont know why it took me so long to pull it off the shelf. I fell in love with the characters. I wanted to plot with them. Some of the little pranks I could see myself pulling off if I had the chance. The basketball games were the funniest parts of the story to me. The Colonels strategy to screw up the opposing team was just priceless. I feel like I could hear the giggles and snickers each free throw attempt. John Green also is killer with the chapter titles. Each chapter says something like 100 days before. They count down. It was a mystery for me to try to figure out what would happen at day 0. I had to force myself not to look ahead and ruin the mystery. I was excited for day 0 because I figure that it would be the day of the big prank, or them getting caught for something. I finally figured out what day 0 was about three sentences before it happened. Wow, my mood shifted immediately. I went from excitement for the guys that just pulled off this amazing prank to practically weeping. It takes true genius to do that to a reader and still have them come out loving the book. If you have not read this book yet, then you dont even have a clue what you are missing. Pick it up now!
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 16 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Very good story, sort of offbeat, about a small cast of semi-misfits. One falls in love with Alaska, but there is a twist......An enjoyable read.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 76 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
From my blog, "Reader's Enchantment:"
I finished Looking For Alaska by John Green early this morning, a little over 24 hours from starting it. This story is mesmerizing and worth losing some sleep for. The characters are so real, and you can identify with them in many ways: as yourself when you were "that age" and as we face some of Life's most difficult questions as adults. (I'm currently having to figure out how to explain death to my 4-year-old because his kitten died. It's an emotional minefield, one you think is easy to maneuver from the outside but when you're face-to-face is so much harder than you imagined.)

In short, the story is about Miles (soon to be dubbed "Pudge") who is a new student at a boarding school in Birmingham, AL. He realized at the end of his sophomore year in high school that his life at home with his parents would be a continuation of the non-life he has: no friends, no connections, no future. So he pursues going away to school, and in doing so forever changes his life.

I don't often do this, but you simply have to read a sample of John Green's amazing writing. In this scene, Miles's parents have asked him why he is going away for school. His father attended the same school, Culver Creek, and while he loved it, he wants to make sure Miles isn't simply trying to relive his own glory days.

"So this guy," I said, standing in the doorway of the living room. "Francois Rabelais. He was this poet. And his last words were 'I go to seek a Great Perhaps.' That's why I'm going. So I don't have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps." (page 5 in the hardcover edition)

Do you see how deep that is? Miles is in the doorway, literally on the threshold of a momentous event in his life. It's subtle, so that you may not pick up on it at the time, but it shows the significance of this particular scene. And those words, about choosing to pursue a Great Perhaps, it's deep even for me at 30+ years old, much less for a teenager to understand their significance if you believe popular stereotypes about teens, but Green doesn't follow that path. He understands that teens do think about Life, they do think about their Future, and they do understand the very real importance of their choices. This is why Green's characters are so touching to teens and adults: they're almost real, they could be friends of the kid next door or down the street.

This is a novel I could see being used as part of a middle- or high-school English/Humanities curriculum. It stands strong next to the great ones I remember like A Separate Peace or To Kill a Mockingbird and, frankly, Looking For Alaska is more relevant to a student's life than anything by Shakespeare. There is some sex and alcohol use, and this may mean that it cannot be used in school, but I still believe this is a story that can open avenues of discussions between teens, between teens and their parents, and even between adults.

This is simply one of The Best. 5 stars, and one book you should definitely not overlook.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on
Helpful Score: 1
This book was very good. Suspenseful, and the characters are great. I love Green's writing style! Defintely check this book out!
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
good book about kids at a prep school
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 98 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I thought this book was terrific. I read it in about 36 hours, which is unusual for me. I couldn't put it down. Highly recommended!
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is a great book. I love how it incorporates the tragedy of death and the typical teenage dramas and problems and characters. It's heartbreaking, and frustrating, yet altogether touching and beautiful. There's such a deeper meaning between the lines. A great read!
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 19 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I bought it at a bookstore from the feature authors table not knowing it was intended for teens. This book is so well written; it is better than most books written for adults than I have read. I was impress with the depth of John Green's character and the honesty of adolescent life.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 25 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Miles leaves his hometown for boarding school in search of the great unknown. There he makes friends easily compared to his hometown. He also gets involved in numerous adventures, and has a deep crush on a girl named Alaska. What happens next is deep and intense, and not even the fact the dates keep counting down to the date in question could prepare you for the climax. This book is one of the best I've read so far this year! This book deals with alchol and cigarette usage, as well as some cruel pranks, and would be unwise to give to a younger teen without parental pre-reading.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 7145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Reviewed by Me for TeensReadToo.com

Miles Halter is the type of high-schooler who always faded into the background at his public school in Florida. He had few friends, by choice as much as by fate, and wanted only to study his passion--memorizing the last words of people who had died. After reading the dying words of poet Francois Rabelais, "I go to seek a Great Perhaps", Miles is convinced that there's more to life than what he's so far experienced.

So Miles sets off to spend his junior and senior years at Culver Creek, a private boarding school in Alabama. There he gains his first nickname "Pudge" (a misnomer, by far, since Miles is quite skinny); meets his first love, Alaska Young; has his first sexual encounter with a Romanian girl named Lara; and gains two great male friends, Chip "The Colonel" Martin and Takumi Hikohito. He also experiences the joys and sickness of getting drunk, the strangeness of smoking cigarettes, and the unadulterated pleasure of playing pranks.

Pudge's new group of friends have their own quirks--The Colonel memorizes countries, capitals, and populations; Alaska collects books for her Life's Library that she hasn't yet read; Takumi relishes being The Fox. They all work together to irritate their teachers, avoid confrontation with The Eagle, the school's dean, and pull off pranks against the rich Weekday Warriors that are the popular clique at Culver Creek.

But LOOKING FOR ALASKA is mostly the story of growing up, of falling in love, of dealing with loss, and getting through life as best that you can. With wonderful dialogue, fascinating prose, and characters that are so real you'll think you know them personally, this is a book well worth reading. Not just is it the story of a group of teenagers looking to find their way out of the labryinth of loss, or just the story of finding our Great Perhaps, LOOKING FOR ALASKA is about living the best life that can be led.

I loved this story, and highly recommend it. Once you do, you'll realize it's no surprise that it won the Teen's Top 10 Awards--in fact, it probably deserves more.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 962 more book reviews
16-year-old Miles Halter, memorizer of famous people's last words, has never fit in at his Florida high school. He attends his father's alma mater, Culver Creek boarding school in Alabama, in search of Rabelais' "Great Perhaps." For the first time in his life, he makes an extremely close group of friends: the Colonel, who makes up in brains what he lacks in height; Takumi, the Japanese non-computer whiz; Lara, his sort-of crush/girlfriend/friend; and Alaska, the ineffable character.

To Miles, Alaska embodies the Great Perhaps: she is hot AND smart, a master prankster and infamous bookworm. But Alaska's tortured by her childhood, and Miles (nicknamed "Pudge" by his friends for being so darn skinny) has trouble keeping up with her extreme mood swings. But when tragedy strikes Culver Creek, Miles and his friends must learn how to handle grief and find their way out of the labyrinth of suffering.

John Green made a brilliant debut with this smartly written book. The language is compelling to teens because everyone can relate to it. I couldn't help but wish I were friends with this amazing group of people. There IS a lot of profanity and sexual references, if that bothers you. But I felt that it lent itself to the story nicely. LOOKING FOR ALASKA should definitely be on every teenager's must-read list.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 12 more book reviews
Not a bad book, but it was a little predicable. I guess thats what happens when you're a 30 year old reading a young adult book
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Along with all of the main aspects of the story line, I also took away that this book shows there is value in education and being a well-educated high school student. As a college professor myself, I can attest that many students today are incredibly underprepared for collegiate-level studies. Perhaps exposing young students to books that show the value of learning (not just good grades, although a welcome side-effect of learning) will help reverse this trend. Each of the characters in this book were very academically intelligent and loved to learn. Each of the characters in this book also held characteristics that I both liked and disliked; all of which match reality. For these reasons, I really enjoyed the book. It wrapped up very well in the end.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 33 more book reviews
I will admit that I only picked up this book because it was small and not too many pages. I have heard John Green praised sung upon high and I thought, yeah right. I read the synopsis and it did not impress me. How can this story be interesting? I am about to eat my words.

This book is wonderful and magical. We all know a Pudge or maybe some of us were Pudge in high school. Pudge comes to bording school with no friends just looking for something, anything. He quickly makes friends with his roommate, the Colonel, who introduces him to the brillant and destructive Alaska Young.

Pudge is obsessed with peoples last words that sometimes he forgets what is going on around him. This book is sometimes awkard and somethimes painful to read. The angst of teenage sexuality and how to handle the loss of people you love.

I only wish that I read this book a little slower the first time. I was in such a hurry to see what happened. This is a skinny book but in no way a light read. Slow down and savor the journey that John Green takes you on. I will now have to get all of his books since he has lived up to his hype.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 8 more book reviews
I was unimpressed to say the least. I loved The Fault in Our Stars and thought I'd love this as well. The first half of the book included high schoolers smoking, drinking, swearing, and performing oral sex which I was not interested in nor did I want my child to read.

Now the second half of the book was actually amazing and very well written. I just wished I could've skipped the first part to get to it, but then it wouldn't have made sense.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 2267 more book reviews
I have read all of John Greens other books and have had Looking for Alaska forever to read. So, I was excited to finally read it. To be honest it wasnt my favorite John Green book (that honor goes to The Fault in Our Stars, followed by Paper Towns, followed by Will Grayson Will Grayson). However, it was still a very good read.

I listened to this on audiobook and the audiobook was very well done. All the characters voices were easy to distinguish and emotions were portrayed really well too.

Miles Halter is a high school student who is obsessed by last words, he loves to read biographies about authors more than he likes reading the books written by them. Miles big issue is that his whole life has been a bit lot of nothing, he has no friends, no goals. Miles decides that transferring to Culver Creek Boarding School will change all that. And it does. He meets his crazy chain-smoking roommate known as The Colonel. The Colonel introduces him to the funny, beautiful, smart, and slightly insane Alaska Young. Between Alaska and the Colonel, Miles (who is nicknames Pudge in irony of his wiriness) has a decidedly not boring school year.

This was a very well done contemporary YA book. That is basically a coming of age story that deals with issues of teen drinking/smoking, grief, suicide, and sexuality. After reading all of John Greens books and then reading this one you can tell that this was his debut novel. Its a really good book, but it is a little rough around the edges at points.

I loved all of the literary quotes throughout. I also really enjoyed Pudges/Miles obsession with peoples last words. My favorite parts of the story were the pranks the kids pull. There are some pretty darn hilarious pranks in here that had me laughing out loud.

I know there was a lot of controversy over this book when it was released and it was banned in some states/schools. While I hate the idea of banning books, I can understand why people got a little worked up. There is an absolute crapload of drinking, smoking, and sex in this book.

All the kids seem to do well at their classes, this is a group of very smart kids we are reading about here. However they also chain-smoke and drink until they pass out.a lot. At times I would thinkgeez high school wasnt like this when I was in it or I would thinkWow is that what boarding school is really like? I think the behavior in here is pretty extreme for high schoolers. Additionally there are some explicit oral sex scenes and Alaska is absolutely sex-obsessed.

So being completely honest here...reading about people smoking themselves sick, finding new ways to smoke and get away with it, and drinking until they puke really isnt my thing. Yes there is a lot more to the story than that, but there was also a lot of drinking/smoking.

There is a lot of serious meat to the story as well. This is pretty much Miles coming of age story. However, all the characters deal with issues of grief and fitting in. There are a lot of family issues woven into the story (poverty, parents dying). There is also a lot of discussion about suicide and guilt. Ultimately the story is about the painful path that we call life and how to navigate it. This is a very engaging book and it absolutely pulls the reader in. It was hard to stop reading.

Overall a very good coming of age story about teens dealing with fitting in and grief/guilt. To those who dont like reading about a lot of drinking/smoking/puking I might recommend reading one of John Greens other amazing books. If you can get past all of that though this is a very entertaining, engaging and thoughtful book about finding your path in life and dealing with the trials you have to survive to get there.
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I'm not sure why I requested this book initially. I don't typically read YA, and this is the second YA book I've read in a row. However, this is an excellent read. The characters are realistic and likeable, the story funny and sad. Well done!
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I'm one of the few who didn't have the patience to finish this book. I think I just don't relate to most of the YA books.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 21 more book reviews
Everyone has it: that one event in their life where the years surrounding it can clearly be defined as "Before" and "After". Welcome to the recount of Miles' Before and After.

Looking for Alaska is a wonderful first novel from John Green. It has been called a "modern day Catcher in the Rye", but it is so much more. It's more likable, more applicable (if that's even possible), and just as poignant of a read. In this novel, join Miles as he leaves his Florida home and regular high school for an Alabama boarding school in search of his "Great Perhaps". At his boarding school, he is immediately surrounded by a diverse group of kids--friends-- who experience life at its best and worst: loves, losses, pranks fit for the history books. It's a book that will have you laughing on one page, and crying ten pages later.

As far as coming of age novels go, this one should not be missed.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 566 more book reviews
Contemporary Teen fiction by John Green. Miles Halter is your average teen-age high school student, he blends in with the crowd. But, he's actually pretty insightful, and wants his life to be more than average. So, he convinces is parents to let him go off to boarding school, "to seek the Great Perhaps."

Miles becomes friends with an eclectic group of people.

This is a terrific book. It's well written, with wonderful, unique characters. Now I want to read all of the author's other books.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 5 more book reviews
This book lived up to every thing that people said about it! I don't feel like I would be considered a reader if I have not read this book!! John Green did it again! Like I said when I read The Fault in Our Stars (I don't cry for books, maybe, tear up BUT the tear never leaves my eye) But Mr. Green YOU succeeded once again! I cried for this book! It didn't hit me until the "After" part! AGH! WHY! On another note, THIS BOOK IS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!! I LOVE IT!!! I will be getting me my own copy of this wonderful, beautiful book. Along with The Fault in Our Stars! Thank you John Green for these WONDERFUL, Life INSPIRING books!!
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Good story about teenaged angst. Set in a boarding school, meaningful interactions with parents or other adults is limited - and the lovable main characters run off the rails a little (a lot) with smoking, drinking and student pranks.

The book takes a very serious turn when everything goes wrong.

A story of friendship before, during and after a life-altering crisis. A good read. I found it a little depressing.
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Read this for my book club. Too much teen angst for me. While I enjoyed learning about boarding school pranks, food, and life, I didn't much care for the main character Alaska. Enjoyed that this was from the male perspective though. That was a good change of pace.
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A great book that stands on its own. The author did a wonderful job with character development and storyline.
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I got this book thinking it would be good and it was not. I read a lot of YA books, but this one did not hit the mark. In fact, I never finished it. It was too boring and rambled on and on. I will try another of this author's books and hope it is better.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 21 more book reviews
Everyone has it: that one event in their life where the years surrounding it can clearly be defined as "Before" and "After". Welcome to the recount of Miles' Before and After.

Looking for Alaska is a wonderful first novel from John Green. It has been called a "modern day Catcher in the Rye", but it is so much more. It's more likable, more applicable (if that's even possible), and just as poignant of a read. In this novel, join Miles as he leaves his Florida home and regular high school for an Alabama boarding school in search of his "Great Perhaps". At his boarding school, he is immediately surrounded by a diverse group of kids--friends-- who experience life at its best and worst: loves, losses, pranks fit for the history books. It's a book that will have you laughing on one page, and crying ten pages later.

As far as coming of age novels go, this one should not be missed.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 121 more book reviews
Story Overview

Miles Halter -- for all intents and purposes -- is a bit of a social misfit. He has few friends -- much to the chagrin of his doting parents. Feeling stifled and like an outsider in his Florida high school, he convinces his parents he wants to attend Culver Creek boarding school in Alabama (his father's alma mater). Although his parents aren't quite sure why he wants to leave, he explains it by sharing Rabelais's last words -- "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." (Miles's greatest eccentricity is that he "collects" people's last words.)

At Culver Creek, he is quickly befriended by his roommate Chip Martin (known on campus as The Colonel). A forceful personality who is one of the masterminds behind elaborate pranks, the Colonel includes Miles (now christened "Pudge") in his circle of friends -- which includes a Japanese exchange student named Takumi and an attractive girl named Alaska. The Colonel fills Pudge in on the social hierarchy of Culver Creek -- the boarders vs. the Weekend Warriors (the rich kids who go home on the weekend), how to outfox The Eagle (the stern headmaster), and how to camouflage smoking and hide liquor. The friends navigate the school year together -- weathering difficult classes, exploring their sexuality, planning pranks, and feuding with the Weekend Warriors.

Miles quickly falls into life at Culver Creek -- and into love with Alaska. Never having had a girlfriend, he finds Alaska fascinating. Not only is she beautiful, but she is a free spirit -- alternately fascinating and moody, friendly then standoffish. And he's not the only one with feelings for Alaska -- her captivating personality and good looks has more than one boy lusting after her. Although she has a boyfriend who she says she loves, that doesn't stop her from flirting and wrapping Miles around her little finger. But Alaska clearly has some troubles in her past that lead to emotional outbursts that confuse and frighten her friends.

After one particularly drunken night, a tragedy occurs that leaves the circle of friends rocked to their core. Amid the grief, confusion and guilt that follows, Miles and his friends look for answers to the mystery of Alaska and get a taste of what the Great Perhaps might hold.

My Thoughts

First off, a funny little story about how I got this book. I had been hearing about this book on a bunch of different book blogs and everyone kept raving about it so I thought "Well, I'll check it out." I put it on my wish list at Paperback Swap, and my wish was granted almost immediately. But when the book came, it appeared to be a travel book about the state of Alaska. "That's funny," I thought, "This sure doesn't seem like the book everyone was talking about." And it wasn't. I had the author wrong! I'd gotten Looking for Alaska by Peter Jenkins, which is indeed a book about traveling and living in the state of Alaska. So beware and don't make the mistake I did -- check the author's name closely!

Anyway, I eventually did get the right book. However, I wasn't as enthralled by it as other bloggers seem to be. In fact, the book didn't move me all that much. Perhaps this is because it is a Young Adult book, and I am anything but a Young Adult. (And just what does Young Adult mean anyway? Late teens/early twenties? Mid-teens? This is one of those categories I wasn't aware of until I started blogging, and I'm a little confused about exactly what demographic these books are supposed to be for.) However, I'm not completely immune to all Young Adult books -- after all, I was sucked into the Twilight saga as quickly and completely as any young adult. (Embarrassing? Yes, but I don't make apologies.) Looking for Alaska even won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature from the American Library Association. Surely there must be something I am missing.

Much of my problem was I just didn't fall in love with the characters. It felt forced to me that Miles collected last words -- perhaps only a device to make him somewhat interesting? Alaska struck me as a bit unstable and a tease. The Colonel was the most interesting character to me -- but only when forced to choose among the main cast of characters. Takumi barely registers except for the role he plays in the end. So the tragedy at the core of the book didn't really resonate with me -- I didn't feel the grief and agony because I just didn't care all that much.

Another problem for me was that you know something big is coming so you're somewhat prepared for it. The first part of the book (Before) is a countdown (one hundred thirty six days before, eighty days before, one day before). Then the big tragedy occurs. Then the book starts counting upwards (one day after, thirty days after). To me, this device led me to anticipate what was coming so it didn't quite have the emotional impact it might have had if I had been surprised.

I did try to view this book as a young adult might have in order to give a more impartial review, but I think there have been better books that deal with this same basic topic (Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson comes to mind -- although that might be geared to a much younger set of readers.) The thing is: This book just didn't do it for me. Although the writing is fine, I was just not drawn into the book in a way that made it memorable for me.

My Final Recommendation

I personally didn't find this book as emotionally charged and powerful as so many other reviewers indicated. In fact, I was left a bit cold by it and finished it with a shrug. However, I seem to be in the minority on this one so you might want to seek other opinions. However, if you are the parent of a teen or young adult and would like to initiate a discussion about death, then perhaps this book might be a good choice. I don't know -- maybe I should have read the Peter Jenkins book instead!
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 231 more book reviews
Meh. I've read better. I'd call it merely okay. Nothing special about for me.
reviewed Looking For Alaska on
great fun book,
reviewed Looking For Alaska on + 7 more book reviews
Loved it!!