Looking for Alaska - by John Green

"How much do we truly care for our friends?"

       John Green’s Looking for Alaska is a great book! It reaches deep into the human heart and explores the ideas of love, friendship, life -- of living life to the fullest and the appreciating the value of friends.

    Tired of being a nerd at public school in Florida, Miles Halter decides to go to a boarding school in Alabama. At Culver Creek, there lies a dichotomy between the Weekday Warriors, the rich students who go home on the weekends, and the average students who stay there all the time. His roommate, “The Colonel,” dubs him “Pudge,” and introduces him to Alaska, “the hottest girl in all of human history.” They soon become friends and the whole adventure begins.

    When the Weekend Warriors almost kill Miles in a prank, the Colonel and Alaska make plans to get even. All goes well until tragedy strikes unexpectedly, leaving them with the question, “how will I ever get out of this labyrinth?” Looking for Alaska, an interesting part of the plot, gains even deeper meaing in the thought provoking ending.

      This novel is great because it raises questions about our understanding of true friendship, love, loyalty, adventure, and life. It shows the importance of truly living life to the fullest rather that just watching it fly by. The conflicts within the characters themselves lead us inward to examine how much we truly care for our friends. Green’s style is comical but well crafted and very easy to read. His use of short but powerful sentences make it fast to read, but they also convey a strong message.

      I would recommend this novel to both boys and girls. Whether you read big fancy books or barely read at all, this book is for you. Only about two hundred pages, it’s a fast read, about one day. Green’s style and syntax are easy to understand and they make you laugh. Looking for Alaska is simply a great book. Read it!

    - Will R.

"breaking down barriers between right and wrong"

        Looking For Alaska is about the boarding school experience of Miles Halter, a socially awkward teen with an interest in people’s last words. Miles lives in Florida, where he doesn’t have many school friends, parents that understand him, or really a place he fits into at all. After reading Francois Rabelais’s last words “I go to seek the great perhaps” he decides to go to Culver Creek to change his life from being trapped ("how will I ever get out of this labyrinth?" Simón Bolívar, last words), to becoming someone alive in the world.

      At Culver Creek, Miles finally finds a spot where he fits in. His roommate, Chip, aka, the Colonel, a third-year Creek student, introduces Miles to Takumi (musically inclined and Japanese), Lara (the beautifully shy Romanian girl), and Alaska Young, a fiery, independent, and wild girl who Miles falls quickly in love with. “If people were like rain, then I was a drizzle, and she was a hurricane.” Miles is initiated into the group and acquires the name “Pudge” for his chicken-legged frame.  Alaska and the gang teach Miles to smoke, drink, and pull pranks. At Creek, he learns to step out of his comfort zone, out of the labyrinth of his life. The Alaska/Miles chemistry, a rollercoaster of hormones, is complicated by Alaska’s securely stated love of her boyfriend.

      Halfway through the novel, and one page into “After”, Miles learns about life through the death of a friend. Green takes the reader through all of the struggles and social awkwardness of what it means to be an outcast, to have friends, and to gain family from those friendships. Looking for Alaska is masterfully written and chock full of artful use of language describing the many-dimensional characters, the rural south, and Culver Creek Boarding School. Greene sets up life lessons in humorous and dangerous situations to captivate his adolescent audience, breaking down barriers between right, wrong, and the gray areas in writing for teens. Looking for Alaska is one of my new favorite books, and its tone is right up there with S.E. Hinton and The Outsiders in how I can really relate to the characters and the story line isn’t unbelievable. It is a story that makes me want to keep reading.  

    - Kate D.

"The characters seem real and the plot is like a movie playing in your head."

       In John Green’s novel, Looking for Alaska, he takes us on a journey from almost beginning to complete end. The story starts out with a boy named Miles Halter getting ready to go to boarding school in the great state of Alabama. He very quickly makes friends with his roommate, Chip, also known as The Colonel. And from here, the journey begins.

      As the protagonist, Miles, nicknamed Pudge, starts out pretty quiet. From Green’s writing style, you can conclude that Pudge thinks an awful lot. He is always watching people, and near the end of the book, he starts to voice his feelings.

      All throughout the novel, Miles is searching for the “Great Perhaps”. In his search for the “Great Perhaps,” he stumbles across another question, “How do you get out of the labyrinth?” This question and many others are answered through the climax and the falling action of the novel.

      At Culver Creek, which is the school Miles attends, pranking is a big part of tradition. Towards the end of the novel, Pudge, the Colonel, Takumi, an Asian friend of Pudge and the Colonel’s, and Lara, another friend, play a prank that will be remembered in Culver Creek history for ages and ages.

      John Green’s way of writing this story makes it feel as though it is a movie playing in one’s head. And every time you stop reading, the movie pauses. Green allows the reader to get incredibly close to his characters and lets you experience the exact emotions they must have been feeling. Sometimes you would think the characters are real people.
     This novel is a great coming of age story. Miles truly finds out what he is made of and what kind of person he is through school, friends, love, suffering, and death. I highly recommend this book to guys and girls alike. It lets you see how others think through the situations that life flings at you and how they get through them. This book will change the way you think.

    - Hannah H.

"ordinary teenagers going through an extraordinary experience"

    I really like this book because it is so genuine and laid back. There are also parts where it is exciting and really funny. The book is divided into two parts; before and after. At the beginning of each chapter in the first half, there are a number of days until the accident, and in the second half, there are a number of days after the accident. It seems light a light read, but in reality, it can be quite deep. I also like this book because it is about ordinary teenagers going through an extraordinary experience. It was interesting to see the way the different characters handled an array of situations. This book is definitely one of my favorites.

    - Julia W.

"an emotional adventure of ups and downs"

       Miles Halter remembers famous people’s last words. That’s it. That’s all he thinks he has going for him. Until he heads off to the “Great Perhaps.” In Looking for Alaska, Miles Halter, is a character that many teenagers can relate to. He is looking for something to make his life more interesting. In hopes of finding a more thrilling life, Miles decides to go to a boarding school called Culver Creek, where he makes real friends and takes risks which make him more like a teenager than he ever was before.

            Miles forms many different relationships with his friends, including “The Colonel," Takumi, a Japanese guy who likes to rap, Lara, a quiet and pretty girl, and Alaska, a wild, funny, troubled, mysterious girl. Whatever Alaska's reputation may be, Miles is instantly attracted to her. She is the one that makes everything happen at Culver Creek. From tutoring a group of friends in precalculus to supplying everyone with cigarettes and alcohol to being the master mind behind many successful pranks, Alaska is the one running the show. Alaska points out to Miles that life is really a labyrinth and questions the way she will get out.

            When a tragedy occurs, Miles questions his relationship with Alaska and whether or not he is a true friend to anyone. He deals with guilt, confusion, pain, and love, emotions that we have all felt in one way or another. John Green’s thrilling adventure comes to life and makes the character’s problems seem so real, as if you're there with him.

            I would recommend this novel not only because of its unique and real characters, but because of the emotions that are felt while reading it. It keeps your interest because even halfway through the book, you keep reading because you care about what happens. This novel takes you on an emotional adventure of ups and downs, including joy, fear, and sadness; everything that is part of real life.

    - Ashley P.

"Countdown chapter titles make you want to read. What is going to happen 'after'?"

           Looking For Alaska is an adventurous thriller. Miles Halter aka Pudge, the main character, is a kid from Florida who decides to attend Culver Creek, a boarding school in Birmingham, Alabama. Once there, he is joined by a strange group of friends including Alaska and the Colonel and is quickly introduced to the ways of the Creek students: drinking, smoking, and pulling priceless pranks.  Unaccustomed to being included, Miles has always been different, constantly searching for what he calls the “Great Perhaps”. 

     Throughout the book Miles learns life lessons from the different personalities around him. His friends all have their own unusual behaviors like Pudge’s obsession with  the last words of famous people and the Colonel's memorizing capitols of major cities. Together, these characters make not only school, but life, an adventure. They show what it is like to live life to its fullest no matter what tomorrow may bring.

      Looking For Alaska is an extremely well written book.  I found much of the humor in this book extremely funny. I found that some the issues that came up in this book were somewhat typical of an average teen. I liked Green’s style of writing. The chapters are titled in a countdown type style of the number of days “before” and the number of days “after" which makes you want to keep reading to find out what is going to happen “after.” Also, Green raises many questions about what true friendship really means, and about passion and love for one another. It is a perfect example of how to have fun in life, and make the most of every second of every day. Green also shows the importance of responsibility.

     I recommend this book to everyone in high school. It is an absolute page-turner. Green’s use of a relaxed tone, and easy syntax allows this book to be read and understood by most. So, read this book! You will enjoy.

    - Joseph C.

"a fun book that you will not be able to put down"

       Looking For Alaska is about a skinny chicken legged boy named Miles “Pudge” Halter who lives in Florida, has no friends at his school, and is an only child. He also knows almost all famous last words that were said by famous people. He decides to move to find the “Great Perhaps” at a boarding school called Culver Creek, where he meets people he can call friends and Alaska Young who completely changes his life.

   The second part of the book is heartbreaking. You will not expect it; well, at least I didn’t. It would spoil the book if I told you what happened but let’s just say that it really makes you wonder things. This part of the book is about figuring things out and trying to let go. Its very sad but also it teaches you something very important for later on in life. This part really makes you think about things differently.

    I really liked this book and the characters - the way they acted, the things they did, the things they said, and the things they experienced. It was all so much fun to read and find out about. It was still written well and pretty funny at times. I recommend it mainly to teens; there are parts that you can probably relate to if you are still in high school.  Even if you are not a teenager I still recommend this book just because its so great and a fun book that you will not be able to put down once you start it.

    - Sally H.