Review: Looking For Alaska

Author: John Green
Publishers: Harper Collins Children's Books (3 July 2006)
SummaryBefore. Miles "Pudge" Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave "the Great Perhaps" even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy 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. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then . . . After. Nothing is ever the same

You know those books, where you read the last page and you sit there on your bed/chair/toilet and are completely stumped.

The books that have an effect on you. 

Books that actually make you… Think. 

I mean really think about what it means to be alive and present. 

Looking for Alaska will definitely be one of those books that will stay with me long after I read the last page (which was bloody fantastic, by the way). 

I instantly connected with the main character, Pudge. The novel is at first driven by Pudge’s search for the ‘Great Perhaps.’ He certainly finds it in Alabama boarding school. And by the time I finished the novel, I wanted to search for my great perhaps. 

The dialogue was so witty, so raw and I encountered what was probably one of the most relatable and honest characters. Ever. The first half was funny, and entertaining. Then the ‘after’ bit comes in. Green’s transition from humor to melancholy was flawless. John Green’s manipulates the readers emotion, and has us teetering on the edge throughout the novel. I’m sad when something bad happens, I laugh when sometimes funny happens. Green’s execution was again, flawless. I never once felt like I didn’t care for the characters. Not once. 

This may be one of the greatest coming of age novels. The plot is more of a journey. Pudge is obviously going to grow up, but the reader isn't sure precisely how it's going to happen. I absolutely loved the structure of the book. There is the ‘before’ and the ‘after’. I’m not going to say what triggers the after, because I don’t want to ruin the book for you and you are going to read if yourself—right? There is foreboding of what’ to come from the very first page. How? Well, because part one is called "before and each chapter begins with a title like "one hundred thirty-six days before," or "eighty-nine days before." 

Green's entire writing style is magnificent. He captures the voice of a sixteen-year-old boy but remains lyrical. His writing is truly a gift to the YA community. 

The quote that had the biggest impact me is "How will I ever to out this labyrinth?" The labyrinth represents the suffering of life, and the characters try to answer this question. How do we ever get out of this suffering? 

The best part? Green allows the reader to come up with his or her own answer. The novel intertwines what really makes us human: the hardships, the triumphs, and the decisions that define who we are. You may not find the spiritual answer to human suffering in looking for Alaska, but at least Green is reminding you of these life important questions 


YA reader said...

Really great review - I have got to read this.

Caitlin R. O'Connell said...


And his characterization in all of his books is absolutely brilliant.

Becca C. said...

John Green is my YA crush, for sure. But... I honestly liked Paper Towns better than Looking for Alaska. Don't kill me!