2013 Reads: Sixteen {Looking for Alaska - John Green}

Saturday, April 13, 2013

So, I really have no idea why I haven't read any John Green before this. I mean, yes, kinda depressing, but what an amazing book. This man can really, really tell a story! 

I really should listen to my friends (both in real life and those of the blogger world) when they recommend a book or an author to me. This is a lesson I keep repeat learning over and over again it seems!


There is a single, major event that shapes Miles "Pudge" Halter's life.

Before that major event Pudge's life was in the midst of great changes. He had just left the safety (and boredom) of his home in Florida to attend the Culver Creek Boarding School in Alabama. There he joins forces with a group of students who are the exact opposite of "safe" and "boring." Besides studying for classes and an obsession with famous last words, Pudge spends his days with his new friends in the pursuit of "the Great Perhaps" (poet Francois Rabelais). Particularly with the beautiful, intelligent, self-destructive, and captivating Alaska Young. As Pudge gets wrapped up in her world and the world of Culver Creek, he realizes that the pursuit of life and love are often the events that make the world go around.

After that major event, though?

Nothing is, or ever will be, the same.


I really am not sure why I've waited so long to read any of John Green's works. Looking for Alaska is an utterly perfect novel that has been haunting my mind since I closed the cover for the last time.

What I really loved about this book can be broken down into three major pieces:

One: The construction of the novel. I think that the countdown to The Event and then the progression of days after The Event was a brilliant move on Green's part. It constantly kept me on my toes for a hint of what was to come (note: there are no hints). And then, after The Event, I kept looking for how pieces of the aftermath would/could/might fall back into place.

If we're being honest (and, really, when am I ever not honest on here?), I am a sucker for an interestingly constructed novel. Particularly one that is well done (remember Thirteen Reasons Why?). And how Green put this novel together was so telling of and influential to the story that I cannot imagine it having been put together any other way.

Two: The characterization. This book, if nothing else, is a story about people. Not the type of people who would be particularly interesting or captivating if you happened to have crossed paths with them in your life or even if they had been secondary characters in another novel. But Green makes these normal, quirky, average people come to life in a way that you feel as though you've known them all your life.

Every character you come across - the majors, the minors, the mentioned only once or twices - they all have a feeling of such realness that you cannot help but become attached to their every word and action. Yes, this story has a Big Event that happens. But it's how these people move on their way towards it and how they deal with the aftermath that's most important.

adored Pudge. I think a reader always finds part of themselves (or puts part of themselves) in the characters they read. Pudge is an easy character to do that with. He's a little awkward, endlessly devoted to his friends, and in love with the pursuit of finding something amazing in life. His relationship with The Colonel was so real and hilarious that it is impossible to rationalize that their friendship exists only in the world of fiction. And Alaska? As a reader (and probably as a character in the book as well) you love her and despise her at the same time. She's wild and self-destructive, but she's sweet and endearing at the same time.

So? Bravo, Mr. Green, for making these average teenagers become something so much more. Because, really, when you think about it, we all were those average teenagers. Who, if anyone were to take a closer look, would find those interesting, quirky, and unique people that we all were once you peeled the average teenagerness away.

Three: It's messy. Stuff happens, not everything gets cleaned up and tied into a neat little package. That's life, and that's this book.

Sometimes I don't want everything to be resolved because having a resolution seems too easy. In this book? Because, really? Things will not be resolved for Pudge or The Colonel for a long, long time. If Green tried to wrap this book up in any other way I would have felt cheated out of something - much in the same way I feel cheated out of something in other books where things don't get resolved. Oh the irony.

All-in-all this was an excellent book. One I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a good, realistic fiction, YA novel. Or anyone just looking for a good book to read (and I have, since finishing it, loaned it out twice already). John Green can really weave a story together in a unique, fresh, and interesting way. He's clever and he's witty, but never at the expense of the story. Everything just fits together so wonderfully and I was endlessly impressed by that while reading Looking for Alaska. I cannot wait to get my hands on some of his other novels. 


Title: Looking For Alaska
Author: John Green
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction, Tough Stuff
Medium: Paperback, 221 pages
Publisher: Speak (28 December 2006)
Date Read: 2 April 2013 
Source: Purchased @ Barnes & Nobel
Recommended For: 8th Grade +, John Green lovers, Contemporary YA lovers, Those looking for a Tough Stuff read, 
Challenges: Goodreads, Off The Shelf, TBR Pile

First Line: The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going-away party.
Favorite Line: So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was a drizzle and she was a hurricane.
Runner-Up Favorite Line: You can say a lot of bad things about Alabama, but you can't say that Alabamans as a people are unduly afraid of deep fryers. 
Last Line: I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful. [whited out, for spoiler's sake]


  1. i am totally in love with john green. i read tfios and then read every single one of his books immediately after. LOVE.

  2. I have never heard of this author or this book. THANKS for sharing.

    Stopping by from Carole's Books You Loved April Edition. I am in the list as #21.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Book Entry

  3. Courtney, thanks for linking in to BYL again. Cheers


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