Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book in Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green



Harper Collins Children's Books


A deeply affecting coming-of-age story, Looking for Alaska traces the journey of Miles Halter, a misfit Florida teenager who leaves the safety of home for a boarding school in Alabama and a chance to explore the "Great Perhaps." Debut novelist and NPR commentator Green perfectly captures the intensity of feeling and despair that defines adolescence in this hip, shocking, and emotionally charged work of fiction.

Miles has a quirky interest in famous people's last words, especially Fran├žois Rabelais's final statement, "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." Determined not to wait for death to begin a similar quest, Miles convinces his parents to let him leave home. Once settled at Culver Creek Preparatory School, he befriends a couple of equally gifted outcasts: his roommate Chip―commonly known as the Colonel—who has a predilection for memorizing long, alphabetical lists for fun; and the beautiful and unpredictable Alaska, whom Miles comes to adore.

The kids grow closer as they make their way through a school year filled with contraband, tests, pranks, breakups, and revelations about family and life. But as the story hurtles toward its shattering climax, chapter headings like "forty-six days before" and "the last day" portend a tragic event―one that will change Miles forever and lead him to new conclusions about the value of his cherished "Great Perhaps."

Why I Read This:

I had previously read Paper Towns by John Green and enjoyed it.

Banned Books Week - this book has been banned or challenged.


I very much enjoyed John Green's take on boarding school, childhood friendships, family, tragedy, taking great leaps of faith, and teenage responsibility in his book Looking for Alaska. Miles was an incredible narrator with an interesting hobby - that of memorizing famous people's dying last words - which added a depth to the story that was just marvelous. The characters in this book all felt very realistic. In fact, when I started reading Looking for Alaska there was something that really bothered me about the characters until I realised what it was - these teens are so rough around the edges - but I knew more people in high school that represented John Green's "controversial" depiction of the teenage lifestyle than possibly any other book I've read. And that's why it bothered me. It was maybe too realistic for me at first. I got to used it. And then I kind of dug it.

This is the kind of book that you can't say much about in a review without spoiling it for others. Let's just say, you have to experience this book for yourselves. I had expected something much more quirkier or fun since my previous experience with John Green had been limited to Paper Towns (a thoughtful and yet still upbeat story), This one was not that. Instead of being the kind of book you read to be entertained, Looking for Alaska is the kind of book you read to get a dose of this is life, sometimes it sucks, sometimes we learn a thing or too, and the passion we attempt to emerse ourselves in is worthy of itself. I recommend this book wholeheartly to anyone with an open mind and an open heart. Everyone should read this book at least once in their life!

I give this book a 3/5 which is kind of low for everything I just said above (I know!). When I read this book I was just in really weird mood so I know I will get more out of this another day. It needs a reread and then it needs a re-rating. I just know this book is brilliant. (Sorry if the rating part is confusing to you ;/) I don't think I personally enjoyed it quite as much as Paper Towns (which is the more fun story) but I felt that it was the book more worthy of attention by the general public for the chances it takes and in the way it tries to explain a thing or two about life.

My Rating:


I won my copy.

Related Posts:

Mini-Review: Paper Towns by John Green

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