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Showing 1-10 of 3,328 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 4,521 reviews
on December 22, 2012
This book was recommended to me because of my love of The Catcher in the Rye. I was told that there had been some comparisons made between the main character, Miles, and Holden Caulfield. While I did see some similarities between the two, I found Looking for Alaska to be filled with original characters who were memorable all on their own. Every character had such a vivid personality, and the relationships between them was much deeper than you find in your typical young adult novel. I loved that the characters were genuinely good people - even the principal ended up being decent - and they were all there for each other, working through the hard times, and learning from each other. There were a lot of serious issues covered, but they were covered with such wit and humor and such an amazing choice of words, that by the time you finish you feel as if you are a changed person. You feel as if you learned something important about the world - which I believe is the test of a really good book. Needless to say, I loved it and highly recommend it.
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on June 14, 2017
"Looking for Alaska" is a complex and amazing book full of hope, tears, love, and more tears. In the book it sets up the book as a predictable love story or falling for the girl story but has many changes in the plot that may catch you off guard but overall thrill and excite you. The book is perfectly descriptive and yet simply to the point. There is very little or none that I would change about this book. Good job yet again John Green
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on April 12, 2016
The answer to "what did you think" is kind of complicated. Overall, I liked the book. John Green really has a way with words and such real character that I can't dislike any of his books. He tends to choose heavier topics and does a good job at...doing so. This one though, is by far the heaviest of the stories of his that I've read. It almost doesn't feel like the same author in some respects. It is a first novel. (At least in known publications.)

Pros:
Well-written
Complex, believable, real characters
Interesting story
Loved the narrator's voice
It's so normal and extraordinary all at once - if you know what I mean

Cons:
It's very sad. Very
I am left with a feeling of loss -- which goes to show good writing, but it still hurts
I found it weird how this straight-laced kid goes from no friends at home to friends and doing all kinds of not straight-laced things at his new school
It's very, very sad

I can't John Green's novel. I just can't. The voice of the narrator is just so wonderful...it's amusing and it's like someone is really talking. You can hear it. I love it. This isn't my favorite John Green novel, but it's still a good one.
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on March 29, 2016
I read this book because I wanted to get my 12 year old niece one. I didn't find it appropriate for her but that was not a problem; I kept reading waiting for the story to improve and find something that might make want to wait a few more years and then give it to her, but nothing happened. Even the parts that are supposed to be intense are predictable. I feel like John Green has been using the same characters, but with different names. I think the book is poorly written and even the metaphors are plain. I'm 22 so I don't think it's because I'm too old for the story. I just don't think this is a book worth reading.
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on February 3, 2014
Looking for Alaska -- Amazon review

As a coming-of-age story geared toward young adults, "Looking for Alaska" colors outside the lines enthusiastically and often. Its fanciful language is profane in a way that many grade school texts are not, and its handful of sexual encounters are explicit (hilariously so, in one memorable instance). I'm a preservice educator who's assembling a mental list of teachable texts, and these sequences did give me pause, if only because I can anticipate reasonable objections from parents who want to explore these ideas with their kids on their time.

But for students beginning to forge points of view on some of life's bigger ideas -- among them sex, loyalty, suicide, and how much thought to give the rules -- "Looking for Alaska" is a fine place to start. The book follows a worn groove for this genre, complete with experimental drug use and its own manic pixie dream girl, but it decorates these tropes with enough sincere flourishes to keep the attention of readers who've trod this path before. The way main character Miles shuffles off his introverted, largely friendless identity as soon as he gets to boarding school struck me as especially thoughtful. Kids try on different versions of themselves all the time, and the fact that Miles does so with minimal fanfare rang true to me.

For classroom use, I do have some reservations. The novel feels at times like the chattiest episodes of "Dawson's Creek," wherein cliquey bands of idle kids lay out or obscure their feelings using a kind of surreal, uniquely contemporary teenage eloquence that too often draws attention to itself. In "Alaska," this comes across not only in dialogue, but in Miles' narration, during which Green abuses hyphenated modifiers ("the Colonel's I-hate-the-rich routine") and capital letters as a means of demonstrating Very Important versions of otherwise pedestrian ideas -- several things happen Before a very grave thing happens, for instance.

The book is aspirational this way, and I think that's to be commended. I developed much of my own writerly identity, such as it is, from "Angel" and "Buffy" reruns, which teased out the flexibility of casual English but made me insufferably adjectival through most of college.

On the other hand, this deliberate approach to teenage chatter could make for rich lessons in voice. How, when and for what reasons do Miles, Chip and Alaska code-switch between high-minded literary English and colloquial talk? What does their preoccupation with slang and nicknames indicate about what they're actually communicating to each other and the staff at their boarding school? Until the halfway point, the book is divided into a series of picaresque misadventures, which lend themselves well to this sort of isolated close-reading. There are opportunities for cross-disciplinary work, too, the most obvious of which would be Dr. Hyde's world religions class. Teaching this book in ninth or tenth grade would dovetail with explorations into Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and any other belief systems students take up in global history classes.

There's a lot to like here, and I think most kids will be able to digest the more challenging stuff on offer. I recommend the book cautiously to teachers looking for a more relatable substitute for "A Separate Peace," with one proviso -- mechanically, not all of the language in "Alaska" is the kind you'll want your students to emulate.
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on December 29, 2012
This is my favorite novel since I read Gilead. It is simple, but profound, and emotionally true in a way that so few novels are. Its message resonated with me on a deep personal level. There are things that happen in your life that change you forever, and you can struggle all you want to figure them out, to no avail. As Fritz Perls used to say, "knowledge is the booby prize." This book teaches how to come to terms with the difficult, the impossible even. A lovely, kind, thoughtful book that persists after reading. Put this very high on your "must read" list.

P.S. While this book is about young adults, I wouldn't think of it as a "young adult novel" any more than I'd think of _Gilead_ as a "senior novel" just because it deals with an older protagonist.
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on March 9, 2017
This book will leave you haunted. With exceptionally developed characters that you feel like you know, and a whirlwind of a plot, you won't be able to put this book down. A devestatingly beautifully crafted ride.

John Green is a literary mastermind of our time. Everyone should read and fall in love with this book.
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on March 21, 2016
I really enjoyed the first 60% of this book, which is Part I. There was a very nice slow build to the main event, and the pacing was great. Then the main event happened, and it was a slow, resolve to the end. I didn't enjoy this as much, probably because it was most about the "why" the event happened, and I had already figured it out.

The book as a whole is beautifully written with humor and depth. The style fit perfectly with the characters. I enjoyed all of the characters and their stories. I can see why this is a popular YA book and a popular author.
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on May 19, 2015
John Green is a writer who appeals to those who have yet to pass their driving test and to those who find driving a necessary evil. It's really quite amazing he has so much to say to so many.

Looking for Alaska is more than a coming of age story. There are many questions posed about religion, how we see ourselves and the world and the big question of what comes next.

His dialogue is witty and believable. He is able to portray the angst that all of us feel at some point in our lives. If you don't feel it you're not maturing or you are completely oblivious that there is a wealth of experiences available to us all.

I enjoyed being part of Will's exploration of the Great Perhaps and the courage he showed in stepping out of his comfort zone. The interaction between the main characters show just how different they were and how they relied on their friendships to survive boarding school.

I hope those who are still in their teens are encouraged to read by the writings of John Green. This world is in serious need of thinking adolescents because without them our world is doomed. So, thank you John Green for being such an appealing writer. Continue to fight the good fight and keep reminding us to be awesome.
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VINE VOICEon December 17, 2013
Miles, a slightly nerdy kid who doesn't fit in at his public school, asks his parents to send him to boarding school in Alabama for a fresh start socially. There, he falls in with a group of fellow-misfits, including his hard-drinking, hard-smoking roommate nicknamed "The Colonel" and a somewhat disturbed, if sexy young lady called Alaska.

The book is constructed around a shattering event in the center. Before the cataclysm, we see Miles, now nicknamed "Pudge," become adopted by the group and learning their variously self-destructive behaviors, which we are invited to regard as benign. (Let's remember that many people acquire lifelong drinking and smoking habits as teenagers - so I can't really agree with the author on this.) Pudge feels a strong sexual attraction to Alaska, which appears to be somewhat returned - although she has a boyfriend off campus. Pudge also throws himself into a religion class and begins to ponder the big questions of life and death - questions which become all too real in the second half of this book. Pudge and the the colonel now become obsessed with trying to make sense out of a tragedy so that they can find a way to go on living.

To really enjoy this book uncritically and really identify with the characters, I think one should be around 16 years old. From my vantage point many years later, I can appreciate the angst and strong emotions evoked - but also temper them with the knowledge that being around on earth a few more decades brings.

Bottom line, good characters, pretty good plot - but a little too feverish for this reader.
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