Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

in a sentence or two: miles 'pudge' halter leaves his home in florida to go to the boarding school of his
father, and his father's father, etc. while attending culver creek (the alabama boarding school), he discovers friends (for pretty much the first time in his life), first love, and explores all the intricacies of the 'great perhaps'.

this was a book i listened to on tape. i must say, the audio recording was fantastic! the southern drawls of the colonel (miles' roommate) and alaska (the girl) were so well done and distinct with their accents, inflections, and personalities. well done brilliance audio!

miles arrives to his dorm room when as a 16 year old junior, which means that everyone else (for the most part anyway) have been there since they were freshman. this gives him only a slight disadvantage as his roommate is chip martin, referred to as the colonel. the colonel is quick to give miles his nickname, pudge. miles is skinny as a rail and lanky to the most gawky extent...which is why pudge is so perfect! the colonel is loyal, considerate, brilliant, and almost always in charge - hence the title for him. it is at culver creek boarding school that miles/pudge has his first cigarette, gets drunk for the first time, and has his first...ahem...3rd base experience. it is also at culver creek that miles/pudge has the opportunity to explore the intersection of christianity, buddhism, and islam in his religion class, the opportunity to develop real friendships with people who are from totally different backgrounds than him, and to learn more about who he really is as a young person.

so much of this novel was about just being a teenager and growing up. though some critics say that the use of explicit language and situations makes it unsuitable for kids or young people, i say - when was the first time you dropped the f-bomb? when was the first time you felt like you really loved someone? when you were 20? 25? hardly. the reality is that so much happens when we are teenagers and john green takes the experiences seriously and genuinely in this book. but it is so much more than a mere teenage coming of age story...

the words on the back of the CD case say "first drink. first prank. first friend. first girl. last words." miles/pudge has a weird obsession with last words (as does the author, it turns out). it's this quirk that helps him to fit in to culver creek. all those firsts listed? well, that's the meat of the story. the first girl is the underlying theme for the book - again, very real to a teenage boy's experience at a co-ed school for the first time. miles/pudge becomes 100% totally enamored with the quirky, brilliant, and foxy alaska. she's so different from anyone else he's ever known, an enigma of sorts that entrances him and challenges him. just as he thinks their relationship is turning the corner, something happens that changes everything.

i can understand why this book is the 2006 Printz Award Winner. it's clever, thoughtful, creative, real, and honest. it's also funny, ridiculous, and awkward in the best teenage ways possible. green takes all of the reality and dissects it in a way that makes total sense (in hindsight of course), and as a reader and former teenager - i really dig that.

fave quotes: "how will i ever get out of this labyrinth?" - an ongoing quotation in the novel, used first by Alaska as the last words of a general. utilized by the characters in the book and the author to keep a central theme on the whole experience.
"i go to seek a great perhaps" - more famous last words, and the whole reason miles/pudge declares he is going to the boarding school.

fix er up: i felt like near the end, i got a little tired of the 'searching' and the theories for why the event happened. though, if it were my friend and my heart and my hurt, i'd probably do the same thing that miles/pudge and the colonel did.

title: Looking for Alaska
author: John Green
genre: Coming of Age, Challenged Title, Friendship, Lisa's Faves, Printz Winner

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. are you sure this is young adult lit? i mean, would Sue Dunens ever have allowed this for the Dunens kids to read? based on your description, i think not.

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