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Looking for Alaska Paperback – December 28, 2006

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100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—From the very first page, tension fills John Green's Michael L. Printz Award-winning novel (Dutton, 2005). Miles Halter, 16, is afraid that nobody will show up at his party because he doesn't have many friends. He loves to read biographies and discover the last words attributed to famous people. He's particularly intrigued with the dying words of poet Francois Rabelais: "I go to seek a great perhaps." Miles is leaving his loving Florida home for the "great perhaps" of the same Alabama boarding school attended by his father. Ominous chapter headings (40 days before, 10 days after) reveal that something tragic may happen. At school, Miles is accepted by a brainy group of pranksters led by his roommate and Alaska Young, a smart and sexy feminist. The teen becomes captivated by his new friends who spend as much energy on sex, smoking, drinking, and cutting-up as they do on reading, learning, and searching for life's meaning. As the school year progresses, Miles's crush on Alaska intensifies, even after it becomes evident that her troubled past sometimes causes her to be self-destructive. This novel is about real kids dealing with the pressures of growing up and feeling indestructible. Listeners will be riveted as the friends band together to deal with the catastrophic events that plague their junior year, and rejoice at their triumphs. Jeff Woodman clearly delineates the voices for each character in an age-appropriate, smart-alecky manner, injecting great emotion while managing not to be overly sentimental. This story belongs in all collections for older young adults, especially those who like Chris Crutcher, David Klass, and Terry Trueman.—JoAnn Carhart, East Islip Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults Top 10
An ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers
A 2005 Booklist Editors’ Choice
A Kirkus Best Book of 2005
A 2005 SLJ Best Book of the Year
A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

"What sets this novel apart is the brilliant, insightful, suffering but enduring voice of Miles Halter." --Chicago Tribune

"Funny, sad, inspiring, and always compelling." --Bookpage

"Stunning conclusion . . . one worthy of a book this good." --Philadelphia Inquirer

"The spirit of Holden Caulfield lives on." --Kliatt

"What sings and soars in this gorgeously told tale is Green’s mastery of language and the sweet, rough edges of Pudge’s voice. Girls will cry and boys will find love, lust, loss and longing in Alaska’s vanilla-and-cigarettes scent." Kirkus, starred review

"Miles’s narration is alive with sweet, self-deprecating humor, and his obvious struggle to tell the story truthfully adds to his believability. Like Phineas in John Knowles’s A Separate Peace, Green draws Alaska so lovingly, in self-loathing darkness as well as energetic light, that readers mourn her loss along with her friends." --SLJ, starred review

"...Miles is a witty narrator who manages to be credible as the overlooked kid, but he's also an articulate spokesperson for the legions of teen searching for life meaning (his taste for famous last words is a believable and entertaining quirk), and the Colonel's smarts, clannish loyalties, and relentlessly methodological approach to problems make him a true original....There's a certain recursive fitness here, since this is exactly the kind of book that makes kids like Miles certain that boarding school will bring them their destiny, but perceptive readers may also realize that their own lives await the discovery of meaning even as they vicariously experience Miles' quest." --Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

"Readers will only hope that this is not the last word from this promising new author." --Publishers Weekly

“John Green has written a powerful novel—one that plunges headlong into the labyrinth of life, love, and the mysteries of being human. This is a book that will touch your life, so don’t read it sitting down. Stand up, and take a step into the Great Perhaps.”
—K.L. Going, author of Fat Kid Rules the World, a Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 221 pages
  • Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (December 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142402516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142402511
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,666 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

John Green is a New York Times bestselling author who has received numerous awards, including both the Printz Medal and a Printz Honor. John is also the cocreator (with his brother, Hank) of the popular video blog Brotherhood 2.0, which has been watched more than 30 million times by Nerdfighter fans all over the globe. John Green lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#59 Overall (See top 100 authors)
#3 in Books > Teens
#59 in Books
#3 in Books > Teens
#59 in Books

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

591 of 631 people found the following review helpful By Richard Hurley on March 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
...and read this book in one sitting. Okay, it's short and incredibly good, which makes it easy to bolt down. But then you are going to feel like an idiot for not savoring the pleasure, and you're going to be bleary as hell the next day (if you finish it at 4 in the morning, like I did).

This book deals with the Big Ones: suffering, loss, and grief, but it does so with such compassion and humor that the net impact is uplifting. Even the principal turns out to be a human being. There are no cardboard cut-out characters here.

Be aware that the kids in this story do what kids actually do (smoke, drink, and have sex). If that bothers you, read it anyway. There are more important things in life than observing proprieties and pretending that bright kids aren't exploratory. You don't have to approve of these characters. It is enough to love them and learn from them.
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404 of 461 people found the following review helpful By S. A. Titone on March 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Somewhere between searching for the secret to winning at Texas Holdem in Doyle Brunson's SUPER SYSTEM II, A COURSE IN POWER POKER, and envying a 101 year old lady boat captain in Jimmy Buffett's A SALTY PIECE OF LAND, I found John Green's Young Adult Novel, LOOKING FOR ALASKA.

I kept looking at the alluring cover of ALASKA on my night stand and decided that POWER POKER could wait and rushed through A SALTY PIECE.

If you have a child going to boarding school soon, goes there now or has gone there, as my son did, you must read LOOKING FOR ALASKA. If you want to understand the loneliness, happiness, mischief, joy, sorrow, sadness and a few other emotions of a teenager, you must read LOOKING FOR ALASKA. If you are convinced your teenager will not mature until much later, you better not read ALASKA. If you are concerned about the experiences that your teenager might have, do not read ALASKA. If you are a teenager, read this book!

Need help with a pair of Aces? Simple - see Doyle. Got Margaritaville on your mind? No problem - Jimmy is your man. But if you want to come of age with an extraordinarily endearing group of kids, read this book.

My son tells me it is being touted as Young Adult Fiction. I don't know about that. I can only tell you that at 64, I am a younger man for having read it.
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141 of 168 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Lux on March 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Green's debut YA novel follows a year in the life of high school junior Miles Halter, a friendless Floridian who begged his parents to enroll him in the Culver Creek boarding school. Miles dreams of starting anew at his elite Alabama prep school, of finding Francois Rabelais's "The Great Perhaps." At school, he falls in with a prankster of a roommate, the Colonel, and the sassy, sexy, messed-up Alaska Young. For an unforgettable 128 days, Miles learns life lessons in love, loyalty, friendship, literature, and poetry, as well as experiences the thrill of a first girlfriend. When tragedy strikes Culver Creek, Miles is forced to undertake an even closer examination of his own character and relationship with his friends.

This is an outstanding coming-of-age novel that has already proved to be a favorite teen read. It doesn't resort to a cop out of a "happily ever after" ending, but the characters each seek closure on their own terms. The characters are well-drawn, witty, and full of individual quirks and spunk. Green even manages to bring in the reality of cigarettes and alcohol without a preachy or over-glorifying tone. This novel has won the Teen's Top 10 award as well as the Printz Award, and Green is well on his way to YA superstardom. I'm looking forward to his next novel.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Ken C. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 18, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Green's ambitious YA novel, LOOKING FOR ALASKA, took the Michael Printz Award and probably deserves it due to its excellent characterizations of the title character (Alaska Young), the protagonist (Miles "Pudge" Halter), the protagonist's clever roommate (Chip "Colonel" Martin), and their Asian sidekick (Takumi). The setting is an Alabaman private school, Culver Creek, and the catalyst for Miles is a pair of famous last words, Francois Rabelais' "I go to seek a Great Perhaps," and Simon Bolivar's "How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?"

With its academic setting, the book provides classroom and dorm room fodder for "deep" discussions, chiefly about religion, famous writers, and poets. It also indulges in a few cliches, namely the slightly dorky lead character in search of himself in a world of hormone-crazed teens who smoke, drink, and quest for sex every chance they get.

Readers may be divided on the title character -- some fascinated by the mercurial personality of Alaska, and others annoyed (as are her friends, off and on) by her constant moods and antics. What's more, the book is divided by a "before" and an "after." The "before" succeeds to a greater extent than the "after" for reasons I cannot specify due to spoiler information.

Still, I was able to overlook Alaska's whining, an easily-solved mystery at the end, and a few characters' very bad accents (phonetically spelled out by Green) due to the fact that this YA went the extra mile and didn't depend on plot alone. I had hoped to place this in my classroom library, but there's just no way due to the adult themes. Will it tempt teen readers? You bet. But schools have rules and it's not worth the possible hazards of offering age-inappropriate stuff -- even when it's GOOD age-inappropriate stuff.
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