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Looking for Alaska
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on January 15, 2018
I read this first in college for a young adult literature class, got through the rest of college, started working, and in the process of all of that in-between stuff, I forgot about this lovely book. I remember liking the book, but not much else. I don't know if I just got busy or if I was too involved in myself or what. Either way, I'm glad I reread it.

A young adult novel about life and death and moving on doesn't sound all that original at first, but Green's treatment of adolescents is different. He makes his characters complex and intelligent and impulsive as every teenager truly is. He does not treat his characters as they might treat themselves, over-important or that which should be pitied. Nor does he treat them as so many adults might, with disdain for their rashness and lack of experience. The author makes his story accessible and realistic to teens and adults alike because there seems to be truth in the conflicting emotions his characters go through.

Mildly pornographic. MILDLY. Just tasteful enough for adolescents learning that sex is confusing and funny and kinda great but really just mostly confusing at first.

I'm glad the answers aren't given in this book. It's about learning how to move on when there aren't definite answers, when there is doubt. This book is about figuring out some things on your own and doing the best you can with what you've got. It helps to forgive and to empathize and to search, but keep going all the while, day by day.
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on March 27, 2015
I initially picked this book to read for a literature class I am taking for a module on the censorship and banning of books for children and young adults. Having absolutely loved The Fault in Our Stars, when I saw this John Green novel on the ALA's list of most frequently banned books in the 21st century, I jumped at it. The grounds for its censorship has been the presence of profanity, underage drinking and smoking, drug use, and sexual content. It is true, there is all of that, but presented in a realistic, true-to-life way. I am staunchly opposed to censorship and banning and this is a book that I not only don't believe deserves to be banned, but it is one that I have made a "must read" for my own kids.

The novel takes place within the Culver Creek Preparatory High School near Birmingham, Alabama. Miles “Pudge” Halter is the new student, obsessed with the last words of famous people. He has transferred to Culver Creek in the hopes that he can find his own “Great Perhaps,” an idea that has come from the last words of François Rabelais, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” At his last school, Miles was a bit socially awkward, more obsessed with reading biographies than with socializing with friends, and he wants to start fresh at Culver Creek. The first person he meets is Chip “The Colonel” Martin, his new roommate who introduces Miles to his own best friends. Takumi Hikohito is obsessed with hip hop and rapping and Alaska Young is a beautiful girl, although emotionally rather unstable, for whom Miles immediately falls.

In many ways, Alaska is the glue that holds the group of friends together. She is beautiful and intelligent and fun to be with and very enigmatic. Although we see different parts of her throughout the book, we, as readers, never really know her any more than her friends do. Even at the end, there are questions that leave you angsty and emotional. Her story is her own and threads of it run through the stories of all of her friends. She is irrevocably a part of their own histories in a myriad of ways.

More than anything, it is a story of coming of age, with all of the pain and angst that goes along with it. There are beautiful moments, funny moments heart wrenching moments, touching moments. There are moments of laughter and moments of sadness. It is an absolutely beautiful story.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the book was its structure. It is created in two parts, "Before" and "After," leading us to and from a pivotal point that I won't describe. The chapters underscored that concept, marking time like "forty-five days before." You know something is going to happen, but you have no idea what it is.

My Recommendation: I think that this is a beautiful book that touches on real situations in ways that are both touching and tragic.
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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 April 12, 2018
Amid all the sadness and loss and wasted life within this story, there was occasional rollicking humor, and frequently a wistful sweetness that even tragedy could not destroy. I was less interested in Alaska's personality than in those of her friends Miles and the Colonel; Alaska was a psychological whirlwind who never really grew, while Miles and the Colonel struggled hard to figure out who she was and who they were. Pranks and hijinks aside, it was their struggles that made Looking for Alaska a riveting story. My two favorite lines, both near the book's end, were "we had to forgive to survive in the labyrinth," and "If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions." Ultimately the narrator, Miles, discovered that forgiveness gave him enough hope to move forward.
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on June 13, 2014
I came upon John Green by way of my granddaughter, who is currently addicted to his books. Wanting to have something to talk about with her, I downloaded a John Green e-sampler from Amazon. The first book in the sampler, Looking for Alaska, caught my interest immediately, so I downloaded the whole book onto my Kindle. I loved the way it was set up, starting with “one hundred thirty-six days before…” and continued moving closer to whatever was going to happen. Since I was reading it on my Kindle, it wasn’t easy for me to skip ahead and see what was going to happen. I couldn’t wait and kept reading until it was done. I found the characters to be realistic and likeable, and I’m sure the appeal would be even greater to teens. The story evoked a wide range of emotions, from laughing hysterically at some of the kids’ pranks to deep sadness at the consequences of some of the same.

Although intended for Grades 9-12, I found the book engaging and well written. It covered sensitive topics, such as substance abuse, sex and death, directly and with honesty. I can clearly see why my twelve-year-old granddaughter loves John Green’s books. I’m glad that she’s reading and that she has found an author who is socially conscious. Looking for Alaska is a coming of age story geared for those coming of age in 2014. I found it to be a great read for anyone who’d like a window into the lives of those young adults. Definitely a good read!
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VINE VOICEon June 5, 2014
Miles has decided he needs to take risks in life, so he enrolls in a boarding school to escape his friendless and uneventful existence. There he meets a motley group of mischievous students, including his roommate Chip, aka "The Colonel" and troubled wild-child, Alaska, who becomes the object of his affection. There were several elements that I really enjoyed. 1) Miles' narrative voice, for both his innocence and his willingness to expand his horizons. 2) The characters' intelligence and resourcefulness. These kids are all smart in their own unique ways and use their talents in inspiring and sometimes misguided endeavors. 3) Green doesn't shy away from the realities teenagers face, including sex and substance use. 4) The Before and After format. Knowing that some significant event is going to occur allows for a sense of anticipation and drama. 5) Pranks!

(Warning: MILD SPOILERS) Though not as emotionally charged as The Fault in Our Stars, this book did convey how tragedy affects an individual and a community. I could sympathize with Miles' grief and how it changed his friendship with Chip and his other classmates. Alaska herself was somewhat of an enigma, rarely exposing her own vulnerability. My only qualm would be that the conclusion was a bit tidy and mildly ambiguous. Though the cause of the incident was eventually defined, it was never determined whether Alaska was truly self-destructive. Despite any vague inferences, it was a great book that depicted the tumultuous teenage existence quite well.
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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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on October 15, 2014
Miles Halter, who is going away to Culver Creek Boarding School, has had a pretty uneventful life. He has no real friends, and the only “hobby” he has is memorizing the last words of prominent individuals. He flips to the end of biographies just to find the subject’s last words. Needless to say, Miles is pretty bored with his life. He decides to go to the boarding school his father went to in order to seek “the Great Perhaps”. Once there, he meets Alaska Young, who catapults his life from boring to exciting. Miles is completely taken by Alaska and falls in love with her, though his love is unrequited. She offers everything he had felt was lacking in his life before her. Alaska is full of drama, danger, excitement, and mystery. Miles takes on the nickname, “Pudge”, and makes his first real friends in the form of his roommate, Chip “The Colonel” Martin, Takumi Hikohito, and Alaska, of course. Miles’ life becomes anything but ordinary, and he loves it, until one event alters everything and Miles will never be the same.

I read Looking for Alaska for Banned Books Week. I’m so glad I did. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s a real shame that there are people who want to keep this book away from their children. Yes, there’s smoking, drinking, swearing, and sexual situations; but that’s not likely anything new to anyone over the age of twelve. There is one sexual act and it is hardly explicit. Looking for Alaska is a learning experience. It’s a chance to discuss difficult topics with kids, and give guidance. If you’re the parent of a teen or pre-teen, you shouldn’t be banning this book, you should be begging your child to read it. I’ll get off my soapbox about that now.

I loved this book. I laughed a lot, I cried, I felt happy, I felt depressed. It was very emotional for me. Looking for Alaska drew me in and I wasn’t just reading about these kids, I was there with them. It was so hard for me to put the book down, and I was thinking about the characters even when I wasn’t reading. I finished Looking for Alaska two days ago and I found myself thinking of them again last night. I waited a few days to write this review, because I felt like my review could never do justice to the book, and it probably won’t. The writing was excellent and the character development was awesome. I loved all of them; Miles, Alaska, The Colonel, and Takumi. They were my friends for a few days and I was sad to see them go at the end of the book. I really liked The Fault in Our Stars also by Green, but I liked Looking for Alaska even more. Read this book!
You can find my other reviews as well as book-related features at <a href="">Bookworm Book Reviews</a>.
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on November 1, 2013
Everybody on the internet is fairly obsessed with John Green, so I figured I should check out one of his books. He's certainly a good writer, and very effectively evoke emotion. However, I had a few problems with the book overall. 1)I thought this book was pretty explicit for a YA novel (both in terms of language and descriptions of scenarios). I've read some racy books, and it doesn't bother me when they're aimed at an adult audience. However, in YA books it tends to bother me - I think there is a way to write it so that books involve mature situations without being too explicit for younger readers that read at a YA level. For example, I read Tamora Pierce's Lioness series in late-elementary school and early middle school - Alanna has adult relationships in the book, but they're written in a way that younger readers don't necessarily understand what's happening. And 2) I felt like the female characters weren't particularly well written. Alaska was essentially a depressive version of the manic pixie dream girl archetype that's been so popular lately, and Lara and Sarah had very little substance. Because of this, I think I had some trouble relating to any of the characters.
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on October 8, 2017
I read this book after seeing it on many lists. Not a teenager, I had no idea what it was about or it’s popularity. That said, I loved the book, the characters, the plot, the symbolism, pretty much everything about it. I’m not going to give anything away, but if you’re reading this review and thinking about reading this book, then stop thinking and go read it. If you’re reading reviews instead of reading the book then stop being lame and go read it.
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