Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska

Before. 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. Bec...

Title:Looking for Alaska
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0142402516
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:221 pages

Looking for Alaska Reviews

  • Todd

    Wow. I must've skipped a bunch of pages or read the Hebrew translation or was having root canal or something because that was one terrible book. All those awards-- WHAT??? Such a clumsy story— every move of the author was heavy-handed and so transparent I felt like I was a fly on John Green's ceiling watching him go "Oh that's good-- oh that's just precious" and fall asleep in his soup again.

    Miles—I mean "Pudge,"as he is deemed within minutes of his arrival at his School of Great Perhaps— may b

    Wow. I must've skipped a bunch of pages or read the Hebrew translation or was having root canal or something because that was one terrible book. All those awards-- WHAT??? Such a clumsy story— every move of the author was heavy-handed and so transparent I felt like I was a fly on John Green's ceiling watching him go "Oh that's good-- oh that's just precious" and fall asleep in his soup again.

    Miles—I mean "Pudge,"as he is deemed within minutes of his arrival at his School of Great Perhaps— may be looking for Alaska throughout this story but I sure knew her right away. She's the pretty girl who's even prettier because she's a bit damaged and makes you feel like you have a chance with her because she's a flirt. Yes, she's a hopelessly thin character, as are they all (with the exception of The Colonel). Takumi, for example, who is supposed to be one of the Big Four around whom this story revolves, is completely characterized by his unrealistic rap improvs ("My rhymin' is old school, sort of like the ancient Romans/ The Colonel's beats is sad like Arthur Miller's Willy Loman") and basically disappears from the story until required by the plot to re-emerge with More Information. Lara, Pudge's first girlfriend, is so bland she is given a Russian accent complete with long e's for short i's ("I put the stuff een the gel... and then I deed the same thing een Jeff's room") to prevent her from evaporating off the page and into THEEN ARE. In fact, each character is carefully provided with a shtick, often a savant-like "talent" that would in reality win game shows but is meant to be That Thing That Makes Him Special: The Colonel can remember capitals of countries to the point of extreme autism! Pudge knows the last words of famous people— only he's so doggone quirky that he reads the biography but not the work of the famous person! And our precious Alaska? She keeps stacks and stacks of books in her room that she intends to read (when she's done selling cigarettes to high school kids, I guess), called her life library (or something), but has wrestled with life's Big Questions alongside some very Heavy Thinking Authors, and can recite poetry, of course. Everybody is way too philosophical and literary for their own good, but god forbid the reader is allowed to think. Lest you miss the point, every moment is interpreted for you:

    Ok, then—I guess that's what happened, except that's just not the way high school kids work.

    Even word choice reveals fear we won't get it; if an author has to tell you FIVE TIMES in the book that the character "deadpanned" instead of "said" (the Colonel"deadpanned" three times and Pudge, just a little less dry I guess, "deadpanned" twice) then either the dialogue is not written well or the author believes it is not written well. (The former, at least).

    So just hanging with these kids leaves one searching for a third dimension, but then the story itself pretty much jumps genres halfway through, from slacker-YA-Holden-mentioned-on-the-back-cover to straight mystery. Why'd she do what she did? Lest I "spoil" this story for you, I won't go into this part, but suffice it to say the above question is left out in the sun to rot while we are forced to look on, sniffing the decay.

    The story doesn't work in any genre anyway. I know what the story is supposed to do— make me fall in love with Alaska, feel all warm and cozy when the four friends smoke cigarettes, shoot the breeze, and look out for one another, and care when one of them screams with cosmic agony, but alas. Maybe if I wasn't basically tapped on the shoulder and demanded these reactions I would be better at having them, but lines fall flat and soggy like cigarettes tossed casually into some cliche prep-school lake:

    My first Kindle read, too!

  • Cristina

    I didn't like this book.

    This is not what I expected to be. I hoped to find a book in the style of

    (or something novel) and what did I find? A bunch of teens who try to ease their anxieties in their not-so-original vices and a sudden drama which leads to nonsense talking. All hiding, of course, in a couple of beautiful quotes that wrap all the 'inspiring-sites' on the internet, the reason I got to the book and I bet that you too.

    Boring, it was so

    boring.

    I didn't like the characters.

    I didn't like this book.

    This is not what I expected to be. I hoped to find a book in the style of

    (or something novel) and what did I find? A bunch of teens who try to ease their anxieties in their not-so-original vices and a sudden drama which leads to nonsense talking. All hiding, of course, in a couple of beautiful quotes that wrap all the 'inspiring-sites' on the internet, the reason I got to the book and I bet that you too.

    Boring, it was so

    boring.

    I didn't like the characters. Alaska was unbearable (oh no wait, she was awesome if you were a character too: fantastic girl,beautiful and wonderful and

    , and she had to be an intelligent woman, so the author made her feminist and an avid reader, to prove she had brains), and there is no need to write about the boys because...

    .

    The main character was a cronic linnet, who got lost in his difficulties (mostly, not having a girlfriend, such a big problem you see) and searching The Great Perhaps, thing he forgot to do so easily so...

    What a waste of time!

    2013 EDIT: almost FOUR years have passed since I read and reviewed Looking for Alaska and I hope nobody expects me to discuss anything related to the book. It's great if you loved the book but I didn't. Maybe at this time of my life I would express myself in a different way but when I wrote this I was convinced of all I said before.

    After Looking for Alaska, I read other John Green's books. And I loved some of them, like

    did. It's sad that Looking for Alaska didn't work for me but I think it is wonderful that it did for you. Not so many books can inspire that kind of passion :_)

    Thanks everybody for your likes and comments and my apologies for not answering them anymore.

  • karen

    , and in an adrenaline-fueled all-caps teen reviewing frenzy, will inadvertently give a major spoiler for this book.

    avoid these people, even though ordinarily, they are pretty cool.

    this is a really well-written teen fiction book. i mean, it won the printz award, i'm not discovering america here. i think i wanted to emphasize that it definitely reads like a book intended for a teen audience. and i think that me as a teen would have numbered this among my very favorite book

    , and in an adrenaline-fueled all-caps teen reviewing frenzy, will inadvertently give a major spoiler for this book.

    avoid these people, even though ordinarily, they are pretty cool.

    this is a really well-written teen fiction book. i mean, it won the printz award, i'm not discovering america here. i think i wanted to emphasize that it definitely reads like a book intended for a teen audience. and i think that me as a teen would have numbered this among my very favorite books. however, as an adult, there are a lot of years between me and the characters in this book, and i have read a lot more books than the average teen, so i am mostly jaded and ruined, but imagine me discovering this at say, 13...

    1) a group of smart kids going to boarding school who read all the time and take pleasure in learning and have hundreds of books and quote marquez and rabelais. karen would have loved to have had friends like these

    2) emotionally unstable female lead who is mysterious and changeable who is not afraid of her sexuality but doesn't use it all the time to get what she wants who says tough and dramatic things like "y'all smoke to enjoy it. i smoke to die" (thirteen year old karen loves this line, grown up karen rolls her eyes)

    3) drinking and smoking and fornicating that do not lead to bad grades and ruined lives. there are other causes for those things...

    4) blow job tips. 'nuff said

    5) brief crash course in eastern religions that would have been so exotic to small town karen.

    and the structure would have been novel to young karen: countdown leading up to

    then countdown leading away from it. very cool.

    so i see why the kids like it. and i liked it, too, but i think it would have been more important and surprising and enchanting to me as a kid - all the first love and first loss type stuff, all the unwritten behavioral codes between the teens and the authority figures, and the slow unravel of a mystery. very cool.

    but i have a question. and it is a spoiltastic question, so i am going to put up a barrier of images to protect anyone who has not read it, and wants to. these will be subliminal suggestions that are so subtle you won't even know what is happening...

    dude, seriously - why didn't jake go to alaska's funeral?? there is no reason for him not to have and there is absolutely no explanation given. it makes it easier for the author, yeah, to not have to write a confrontation scene between jake and pudge, and to have the mystery unravel more slowly, but it makes zero sense for someone so in love with his girl to not go to her funeral. seriously. dumb. i will accept any private messages about this, to keep the thread spoiler-free, but until john green tells me why, i am going to say "dumb"

  • Megs ♥

    This was the first book I ever read by John Green. It was given to me in 2007 when I had no idea who John Green was. I wish this book had been around when I was a teen. I really enjoyed the story, but I think I would have liked it even more if I wasn't already past that point in my life. Even still, I loved this book.

    Miles is in search for the great perhaps, and has a fascination with famous last words. He meets Alaska Young who is basically the girl of his dreams. Their journey together at boar

    This was the first book I ever read by John Green. It was given to me in 2007 when I had no idea who John Green was. I wish this book had been around when I was a teen. I really enjoyed the story, but I think I would have liked it even more if I wasn't already past that point in my life. Even still, I loved this book.

    Miles is in search for the great perhaps, and has a fascination with famous last words. He meets Alaska Young who is basically the girl of his dreams. Their journey together at boarding school begins and John takes us on an exciting ride in which you constantly feel there is impending doom lurking ahead.

    I'm going to keep this review short, because so much has been said on this book. The writing is as great as I always expect now from JG, and the story unfolds with a great pace that makes you never want to put the book down. You will probably feel some excitement, sadness, and maybe even a little anger reading this book, but I think this book will be memorable. This is an outstanding coming-of-age novel that doesn't resort to a "happily ever after" ending, but the characters each seek closure on their own terms. The characters are well drawn, witty, and full of individual quirks. This book also includes some fun pranks, some great humor, and some shocking turns of events. I loved the "before"/"after" and the whole countdown. I thought that was a really neat tool that helped build suspense.

    Looking For Alaska is a book I still love and recommend years later, and occasionally still think about. It remains my favorite JG book, and I would like to personally thank the person who gave me this book for introducing me to this wonderful writer.

    Recommend to everyone, really!

  • Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead

    Update- 4/12/14

    This review/rant receives more comments than any other book review I have. I decided to reply to a few of the comments in my review because the people that don't like my review/rant don't like it for pretty much the same reasons. First, please note there are spoilers. However, the spoilers aren't really spoilers since it doesn't affect your enjoyment or lack of enjoyment if you know the big secret. Nevertheless, a helpful few have pointed out that I have spoilers and I didn't mark

    Update- 4/12/14

    This review/rant receives more comments than any other book review I have. I decided to reply to a few of the comments in my review because the people that don't like my review/rant don't like it for pretty much the same reasons. First, please note there are spoilers. However, the spoilers aren't really spoilers since it doesn't affect your enjoyment or lack of enjoyment if you know the big secret. Nevertheless, a helpful few have pointed out that I have spoilers and I didn't mark them. So are you happy now?

    Ok, now to another criticism. Many lovely critics bring up the same point- "maybe John Green just wanted to show a flawed character & you just don't grasp the flawed character"...blah,blah,blah, I'm paraphrasing here and kinda combining all the criticism.

    All right I'll bite. Yes, Alaska is flawed. That is obvious. Ok? Did Mr. Green show how Alaska was flawed and resolve either her flaws or how others deal with her flaws if she chose not to change her ways? Nope. Still not buying my argument? Ok. Let's say for the sake of argument, Alaska was a puppy abuser. She goes around kicking puppies. Is her puppy kicking dealt with? Do any of the characters say "listen Alaska Darling, you kick one more puppy and I'm kicking your ass"? Ok, maybe that is a bit extreme, how about does Mr. Green have his characters abandon Alaska because she refuses to give up her puppy kicking ways? Nope. I know, you are saying, "listen, you stupid idiot, Alaska didn't abuse puppies, she only abused other's people's kindness, took advantage of people, emotionally manipulated people and was an all around piss poor person that used her own poor past to lash out". Oh, ok, I see what you mean, nope, not a puppy kicker...clearly I'm wrong.

    Below is the old rant/review...enjoy

    I'm totally going to regret putting this review in and I'll probably change it later but oh...what...the...hell....

    Poor Alaska. She screwed up in her past. She blames herself for something that happened when she was a child. It caused her to be moody, withdrawn, angry, and unpredictable. It caused her to drink too much, take unnecessary risks, take advantage of other people’s kindness. One minute Alaska was fun, the life of the party, caring, and everyone’s best friend. The next minute, she was the bitch.

    Poor, poor Alaska. Let’s save Alaska.

    Give me a break!

    Alaska acted the way she did because she could. She used her past as an excuse for her destructive behavior. Alaska’s friends enabled Alaska’s behavior because they didn’t stand up to her. In fact, they had destructive behavior that needed to be addressed as well but since this book is called “Looking for Alaska”, I’m going to focus on Alaska.

    Many people had really shitty childhoods. Many people were physically and mentally abused as children. Many people were left to survive on their own as children…hungry, dirty and alone. These people didn’t grow up to use their bad childhood, their own guilt, or their past mistakes to act out, take advantage of other people, or to basically treat people like crap.

    I’m not uncaring. Far from it. I have a ton of compassion. I’m too caring. But being a victim does not excuse your behavior. Being a victim does not justify your behavior. You still have to treat people with kindness, compassion, love, and honesty regardless of what struggles you survived. Get help, and then move on.

    If someone is treating you wrong, call them on it. Don’t look into their past to try to explain away their behavior. That is BS. It isn’t quirkiness, it isn’t moodiness, it is abuse.

    So dear Miles aka Pudge, why are you seeking Alaska’s forgiveness? You did nothing wrong except failing to recognize Alaska’s destructive behavior and failing to get away from it.

    If a person is friendly, kind, caring one minute, but then angry, withdrawn the next, THEY have a problem.

    If a person is drinking too much, partying to hard, ignoring authority, breaking the rules, THEY have a problem.

    If you are trying to figure the above-mentioned person out, if you are trying to solve that person’s problems, figure out why they are the way they are, YOU have a problem.

    I’m off my pedestal now.

    I’m going to probably change this review once I stop being so irritated but for right now, I’m rolling with it. And if I didn’t “get” the true meaning of the book, well, I’m sorry; I don’t want to “get” it. I don’t care. Alaska sucked as a friend and she was a lousy human being, and she took up too much of my time by reading the book.

  • Clair

    I did not cry.

    But, John Green still managed to hit me where it really hurt.

  • Patrick

    My assistant Amanda has been a John Green fan for ages, which is one of the reasons I decided to start giving his stuff a read.

    I decided to start here because it was one of his first books.

    After I finished this book, I went to her and asked, "Are all of John Green's books going to leave me feeling like I've had a hole kicked straight through my guts?"

    "Not all of them," she said. "But yeah. Some."

    I thought about this for a while, then asked her. "In Name of the Wind, when X happens, did it fee

    My assistant Amanda has been a John Green fan for ages, which is one of the reasons I decided to start giving his stuff a read.

    I decided to start here because it was one of his first books.

    After I finished this book, I went to her and asked, "Are all of John Green's books going to leave me feeling like I've had a hole kicked straight through my guts?"

    "Not all of them," she said. "But yeah. Some."

    I thought about this for a while, then asked her. "In Name of the Wind, when X happens, did it feel like that when you read it?"

    (Except I didn't say X, obviously. I mentioned a particular scene in my first book.)

    "Well," Amanda said, "Not really. His scene is more central to his book. But even so, yeah. It was kinda like that."

    "Shit," I said. "Sorry about that."

    So yeah. Sorry about that.

  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    That's me, realizing I was about to give a big one star to a super popular book on Goodreads.

    It didn't stop me. This book was beyond stupid.

    Miles is a little nerd boy from Florida, he is going away to boarding school hoping for a new life or maybe his "Great Perhaps". The Great Perhaps comes from a minute reference to some poet. Thrown in to this book to make it all edgy and shit. Fail.

    Once he gets there his roommate (the requisite character that is so poor but super smart) befriends him. The

    That's me, realizing I was about to give a big one star to a super popular book on Goodreads.

    It didn't stop me. This book was beyond stupid.

    Miles is a little nerd boy from Florida, he is going away to boarding school hoping for a new life or maybe his "Great Perhaps". The Great Perhaps comes from a minute reference to some poet. Thrown in to this book to make it all edgy and shit. Fail.

    Once he gets there his roommate (the requisite character that is so poor but super smart) befriends him. The Colonel aka Chip takes Miles (now known as Pudge) under his wing and now he has friends!

    Including the super special Alaska, she is the beautiful, cool and allusive girl. She is moody and spontaneous. Of course, the boys all love her milkshake..including our Pudge.

    That smoking line? It's from the book. *head-desk*

    Then another thing..and this was a big one for me. John Green, you have enough dang money that if you are going to write southern characters at least try, TRY!!! to get them halfway right.

    You just put every stupid stereotype known into the characters that are southern for this book. You made them all sound stupid.

    If they didn't go to this wonderful boarding school that erased their accent they sounded like ignorant hicks.

    I hate to tell you honey, but last time I check Florida is also in the south. They have accents too.

    You lost a star just for not taking the two seconds to research southern speech. I've lived here my whole life and I have never heard someone speak like you had several characters speaking.

    Anyways, for me. This book glorified the whole "oh I'm so dark" "don't you want to be me" shit. FOR ME

    My southern ass will give this book a big ole "hell to the no."

    (I really need that sarcasm font)

    For all the little fangirls and trolls that I'm sure I'll being seeing really soon. Here's a message for you.

    and bite me.

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