Of course, I began my trek through John Green’s world with the ubiquitous The Fault in Our Stars. How could I not? The cover alone whistles for you to take a look. I hadn’t yet heard of John Green and his tales that giveth and taketh away. The nerve he has, being all perky and funny on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson whilst the rest of us are curled into the fetal position, barely able to wrestle the last tissue out of the box.
Looking for Alaska, to be fair, is a completely different story than that of Hazel Grace and Gus; there’s a sense of hopefulness, that the main character, Miles (whose roommate, Chip, nicknames him “Pudge” due to his distinct lack of girth) will remove himself from his life of sameness at home in Florida and step into “the Great Perhaps.” Pudge has been infatuated with learning the last words of famous people. From that, he has decided that he needs his own life of adventure, and thinks he will find that at the prep school in Alabama where his father was educated.
Pudge has a lot of living to catch up on, and Chip (mostly known at the Colonel) and his friends Takumi and Alaska are up for the task. Pranking is taken very seriously at Culver Creek, and Alaska is the queen of pranks. She’s not one to beat around the bush, she smokes like a chimney and she’s cleverly hidden her stash of Strawberry Hill. Before he knows it, Pudge is seriously falling for Alaska, despite her having a boyfriend at another school.
But then a tragedy strikes them all, and they struggle to find an answer, the why. Was it planned? Was it an accident? Was it a “see you later, suckers – I’m outta here?” Maybe there’s no answer to the Great Perhaps.
The Bottom Line: There’s a harsh reality to this book, one that you don’t find in a lot of Young Adult literature (or Old Adult, even). These teens are shown in all of their glory, ugliness, bitterness, happiness, joy and puzzlement. They curse, they drink, they laugh, they struggle. There’s a stark honesty here that, if you’re over a certain age, you may have forgotten about. You weren’t all put together neatly at that age, remember? Everything seems to smooth out in our memories – we’re never as horrible or profane or brazen when we look back. Our feelings and hopes are worn as badges, shiny at first, then they dull right before we hide them away.
So enjoy this book in all of its hormonal, fabulous, sad and wonderful candidness and remember when you, too, knew everything and nothing all at once.
Looking for Alaska by John Green was published March 3, 2005 by Dutton Juvenile. Ink and Page picked this book up from the library, so no one had a choice about whether it was reviewed.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary Romance
Ages: 13 and up
You Might Want to Know: Underage drinking/drugs, profanity, frank sexual discussions
See my previous reviews of books by John Green:
The Fault In Our Stars