Book Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for AlaskaLooking for Alaska by John Green
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: March 3, 2005
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words – and tired of his safe like at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called “The Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Looking for Alaska is a coming of age story about Miles, aka Pudge, who goes away to boarding school for the first time at age sixteen. He makes friends with his roommate, Chip Martin aka The Colonel, Takumi, and Alaska Young, a mysterious, somewhat damaged girl. Miles didn’t have any friends when he went to public school so this is a new experience for him.

The school is divided into two main cliques: the Weekenders, who are the rich kids that can afford to go home on the weekends and everyone else. The Weekenders and the regular kids play horrible pranks on each other.

Miles predictably develops a crush on Alaska. I think the friendship between Miles and Alaska will appeal to most teens. How many love songs are written about a good-hearted boy trying to save an enigmatic, damaged girl? I know when I was that age, I desperately wanted to be that girl but I was just too nerdy to pull it off. I did smoke (I don’t now), like the characters in this book do and like them, I thought it made me cool. That’s the one thing I wish was not in this book. I feel like smoking was glamourized.

Looking for Alaska was the most challenged book of 2015. Watch John Green’s response to this dubious distinction below. Of course, I am against book banning on principle and definitely against it in the case of Looking for Alaska. Like it or not, most teens drink, swear and participate in sexual activity. John Green does not dumb down or simplify the story. It’s both funny and tragic. I highly recommend it to both teenagers and adults.


  • rhapsodyinbooks

    I totally agree with you that most teens drink, swear and participate in sexual activity. You aren’t going to make it go away by not acknowledging it, and I think that if a book helps get a discussion going, all the better.

  • S.G. Wright

    He seems a talented author; I read The Fault in Our Stars but I haven’t read this one. I hear he’s coming out with a new book this fall. Hmm. On principle I don’t believe in banning books either, blah. I’m curious about this one.