Looking for Alaska: A book review

Scout Slade, Reporter

Looking For Alaska by John Green gives a glimpse into the mind of teenager Miles Halter. Miles has had a pretty uneventful and quite boring life in Orlando Florida. This intelligent kid has an interest in memorizing last words, one in particular was Francois Rabbelais’ last words, “I go to seek the Great Perhaps” (refinery29).

Miles has this epiphany that he should seek the “Great perhaps” while he is alive rather than waiting for death. In doing so he made the decision to move to a new school in hopes of reinventing himself. He chose to move to Culver Creek Boarding School in Alabama. There he experiences things he never thought he would.

He developed real friendships, made spontaneous actions and learned many life lessons from his peers and teachers. Most importantly, at this school he meets Alaska Young, an exuberant, moody, and unpredictable girl who Miles immediately falls for. This book deals with topics of friendship, loyalty, forgiveness, mischief, and also follows the emotions of Miles when he deals with some heavy affairs. This book was published on March 3, 2005 and the novel won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association (Wikipedia).  

My thoughts

I loved this book. I thought it was very well written and kept a consistent pace that didn’t lose my attention. There were sweet and heartwarming moments that made me want to hug and kiss each page. On the flip side, there were plenty of depressing, angry, and heart wrenching moments that made me want to throw the book across the room, but each moment tied together to create this beautiful coming of age book. 

It was very graceful how one event tied to the next. This book did a great job at showing all the emotional stages of what a teen living through these series of events would have felt like. The book is split up into two parts; a before and an after. Each “chapter” was technically a countdown to the second part; the “after”. I really liked the way Green set this up because it served as a great tool to build suspense and leaves the reader anticipating something big. 

This book also includes some fun pranks, great humor, and some shocking turn of events.The characters are really likable with their witty humor and individual quirks. One character worthy of mentioning is Alaska Young. I admire the character development in this character specifically. At first she comes off as a very loud and rambunctious teen girl but as the story goes on she reveals things about herself you never would have guessed. Initially it may seem that this book is about a highschool romance, but it turns out to be more than that. It’s more of a tale of how love isn’t as translucent as it seems. 

I really enjoyed John Green’s emphasis on eastern religions. In the book, Miles is taking a religion study class at Culver Creek and throughout the story ideas of life and death are discussed but not in the normal way that we commonly hear about. It really opened my mind and made me think about different aspects of life in a new light. I read this book about 4 months ago and I still think about it.   

My favorite quote

“We are all going, I thought, and it applies to turtles and turtlenecks, Alaska the girl and Alaska the place, because nothing can last, not even the earth itself. The Buddha said that suffering was caused by desire, we’d learned, and that the cessation of desire meant the cessation of suffering. When you stopped wishing things wouldn’t fall apart, you’d stop suffering when they did.”

-John Green, Looking for Alaska 

Content warning 

This book does contain explicit content including smoking, crude language, and other topics that may be sensitive to some readers.