Book Review: ‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green

Book Cover Looking for Alaska by John GreenRating: 4

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

Other Reviews:
The Book Smugglers: 8 of 10 Stars (@booksmugglers)
ECNewman: 4 of 5 Stars (@ec_newman)

Find the Author:
Author’s Website/Blog
Author on Twitter (@realjohngreen)
Author on Facebook

Buy the Book:
Abe Books
Barnes & Noble

Dutton Juvenile Website (an imprint of Penguin USA)
Twitter  (@PenguinTeen)

See my previous reviews of books by John Green:
The Fault In Our Stars

10 thoughts on “Book Review: ‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green”

  1. Having recently read The Fault In Our Stars, and fallen in love with his writing, I’m keen to explore more of John Green’s works. This is the second review of seen of this book in the past week or so and am thinking of giving this one a read next. It sounds very intriguing, and quite different from TFIOS. A great review 🙂

    1. Do it! I have a couple more more read, but I am in no hurry as I don’t want to “run out” before he publishes again. His writing is so gut-punching.

      Yes, one of the reviews I linked to was just posted the other day!

  2. Looking for Alaska was my first introduction to John Green. After reading and loving this book, I immediately went out and bought every other John Green book and love them all. He is now my favorite author. Besides being an amazing author, he seems like such an nice, genuine, smart wonderful person. I have nothing but respect for him and what he brings to the world. It is so refreshing coming across authors like that.

    1. I agree 100%, CeCe. It is so amazing that a person can write like that – he makes you sink into the skin of the person like none other. It’s remarkable, really.

  3. LOL. I love what you said about how dare John Green be all funny on the Late Late show and at the same time be tearing our hearts out with his books! The nerve! Something else I find kind of funny is that I’ve heard John Greens ay multiple times (on his Youtube channels) that readers shouldn’t dislike a book just because the main character is not likable. Which I find hilarious, because his main characters are ridiculously likable!

    Although I haven’t read this one or Katherines yet. Hopefully soon. Glad you liked this one.

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