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Looking for Alaska
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on May 8, 2015
What I love about John Green is his ability to make perfectly flawed characters for readers to fall in love with, characters that are more brilliant and witty than anyone you've ever met, and yet entirely believable at the same time. He's done this well in Looking For Alaska, giving as much dimension to side characters as he has to the main character and his core group. I loved how he could go from witty banter to decadent imagery in the same paragraph, and it would all tie together. This book was full of thought-provoking concepts. And while I managed to guess a few of the twists before they happened, it didn't matter. I was still pulled along on a ride I wanted to remain on, losing myself in the world Green created, immersed in concepts of spirituality and friendship and last words, and resting with the ultimate way out of the labyrinth.
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on July 12, 2014
I think if I'd read this book as a high school student, I'd have been very moved and impacted by this story. It's a strong story of friendship and the all or nothing attitude of teens. However it reads as if an adult is trying to write a teenager's viewpoint and it doesn't work as well for me. I like John Green and think he's got loads of talent. This story just wasn't the bowl over that TFIOS was for me.

Miles is your atypical teen in many ways and his decision to go to a boarding school as a junior definitely fits with his image as an outsider. The supporting characters are diverse but somewhat typical. The brainy kid. The rich kid. The scholarship kid. Alaska is so far outside of the typical teen, however, that as a reader I was immediately drawn to her. She is wise and unwise. The kind of friend you want, but the kind you are afraid of as well. She is wounded and wild. She is the sun in their world.

The story develops as expected but you want to stick around and see what happens. I liked the before and after format Green used. It helped build the tension.
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on July 8, 2015
Although I have not been a "young adult" for several years, and don't generally gravitate towards the ya genres I felt very compelled to read this.

As a teenager I was a lot like the character, "Alaska"; reckless, smoke, drank, somewhat of the ringleader in misbehaving. I could relate to that feeling of flying by the seat of your pants, and never bothering to look back. Alaska, and her character development were flawless. We all knew a girl (or some of us were) just like Alaska.

I don't want to give anything away, but I felt the emotions of the characters were raw, and real. I also saw parallels to coming of age stories like "Stand by Me".

I think John Greene is a fabulous writer. I'll probably be reading more of his books down the road.
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on December 16, 2013
We used this is a thematic unit (Grade 9) with books including King Dork, Perks of Being a Wallflower, A Separate Peace, and Catcher in the Rye. The texts have similar themes so it gave students of different reading levels the opportunity to share related ideas regardless of the book they read. Personally I felt Looking for Alaska offered a lot to think about, even as an adult. Some of the concepts they address affect people regardless of age. It is an easy read so simple literary techniques but characterization/setting/themes/motifs all could be great discussions from an English teacher perspective. Well worth a read if you're looking to think about the meaning of life. Pudge-the protagonist-is the master of last words so you can learn some historical fun facts as well. The key idea that comes up in the text involves the labyrinth and figuring out what this is for each of us. Again, interesting ideas. Give it a read!
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on August 20, 2012
Alaska is a place. You can find it deeply embedded within the fisted heart of Miles `Pudge' Halter. He who set out to discover the Great Perhaps found it burning brightly in the person of Alaska Young. Sometimes, though, you have to be careful what you ask for. The Great Perhaps is a fabulous journey...and a tumultuous burden.

Looking for Alaska is one of those books you cling to at the end. I know this doesn't make sense, but the love I have for LFA makes me think of A Separate Peace...not the book itself, but the love I have for it. That's how it goes sometimes, and for no definable reason...you equate books by the feelings you get when reading them, not by subject matter or similarities they share. Book love. It's an odd thing. These two books will always be intertwined in my brain not because they're in any way similar, but because the feelings I experienced while reading them were.

That being said, I absolutely adored Looking for Alaska.

FAVOURITE QUOTES:

~ 'She had the kind of eyes that predisposed you to supporting her every endeavor.'
~ 'The Great Perhaps was upon us, and we were invincible.'
~ 'We ran like we had golden shoes.'
~ 'We are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be.'
~ `I wanted to be one of those people who have streaks to maintain, who scorch the ground with their intensity. But for now, at least I knew such people, and they needed me, just like comets need tails.'

When I say these are some of my favourite quotes, I may be downplaying it a bit...these are tattoo-able, especially the second quote. Green has such a way of working life mantras into his prose...he probably doesn't even realize he's doing it. He's an absolute master at it!

Alaska Young kind of deserves the pedestal her friends and co-students almost unwittingly put her on. Alaska Young is awesome. Our narrator knows it, too. Pudge (Miles Halter) may have been late to the party, but he definitely arrived at just the right spot when he got there. He arrives at Culver Creek Boarding School a year after everybody else...but he gets to share a room with The Colonel, Alaska's best friend and confidante. That puts Pudge right in the middle of the Great Perhaps that he craves so obsessively.

I loved Pudge's uniquely quirky ability to memorize famous last words...and perhaps this is the personality trait that intrigued his new friends and quickly ingratiated him into their lives. Without it being said, I had the feeling that these new people in Pudge's life--The Colonel, Alaska, Takumi, Lara--these were the in-crowd. And he effortlessly fell in with them.

Pudge becomes instantly enamoured with Alaska Young, a girl who is always referring to her off-campus boyfriend...always pointing out that she is not available. She is the risk-taking, free spirited girl who is comfortable with whoever she is on any given day...on the surface. She's the girl that everybody wants a piece of--they sense her magic, she is the centre that the rest of the Culver Creek Boarding School orbits around.

But there are complications and secrets in the life of Alaska Young. Viewed through the eyes of our narrator, we begin to put the pieces of Alaska Young together. Pudge becomes one of the tails to her fiercely burning comet. He allows the story he is telling to be about her, not him.

John Green is a complete and utter MASTER. I can't even get into what happens in this novel without plastering SPOILER ALERT all over everything, but I will say it is kind of broken down into a BEFORE and an AFTER. There is a great event that ricochets the dynamic circle of friends into a cyclone of emotion. There are a lot of hi-jinx and one-upping in the BEFORE, as everybody tries to outdo everybody else in the practical joke department. And there is a lot of introspection in the AFTER...a lot of questioning, soul-searching, etc.

Looking for Alaska is an amazing character study. Phenomenal characters you will love forever! This is definitely in my pile to be read yearly. Right there beside my beloved copy of A Separate Peace.

You're gonna love this one! It's my favourite John Green title.

Expectation: Out of the water!
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on February 22, 2017
John Green is a hit or miss for me. If you are looking for a read that has more emotional compacted words, definitely read this. Comparing this with his "The Fault in our Stars" novel, I definitely enjoyed it more as a woman because it was coming from a male's perspective from a male author. Personally, after seeing TFIOS movie, I saw more emotion than in reading both of these books. I love John Green, but his simplistic vocabulary can cause the story to drag. However, that was not the case with this book!
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on August 10, 2015
My only complaint about this book, is that I didn't discover it 10 years ago. I read "Paper Towns" in preparation for seeing the movie with my 16 year old Grandson, and then jumped on "The Fault in Our Stars", although I had already seen the film version. I was so captivated by John Greene's writing style and insight, I decided to read "Looking For Alaska" next. What starts as a YA coming of age story, slowly unfolds into a story of love, loss, acceptance and a very insightful look at what lies beyond. All the characters are well defined, and whether you like them or not, you feel as if you know them. I was blown away by this book, and felt spiritually uplifted when I finished. A very good read for young and old.
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on February 21, 2016
This book is one of the best books I've ever read. Its filled with smoking, drinking, lifelong memories, mistakes, and life lessons that pretty much everyone can relate to, young and old. John Green is one of the best YA authors of our time, and each of his books give the reader a story to relate to, and Looking for Alaska is no exception. Falling into the world of Miles "Pudge" Halter will lead you to a world full of misguided teenagers and their struggle to find themselves and cope with a loss that will stay with them forever. If you're looking for an intellectual, cultivating book to read, this is definitely the book for you.
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on June 16, 2014
I am a psychotherapist who works with all ages, frequently tweens and teens.
A 13-year-old girl who had stopped reading told me she would like to try to read "The Fault in Or Stars"- I was unfamiliar with John Green before then. The online review sounded pretty "adult," with some sexual themes. Her mother okayed it, though, as she wanted her daughter to find her love of reading once again. As we began to read Green's work, I was struck by Green's excellent writing, and his presentations of the human complications we all face at many phases of life. When we finished that book, I went on the "Looking for Alaska." Yes, you know a tragedy is coming, that hearts will be broken, but with well-crafted prose, without talking down to his audience in any way, Green manages to teach important hard lessons of life. Green's books are good for young people. Really good. I'm going to read everything he has written. "Looking for Alaska was my favorite so far." His books are good for me, too.
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on August 11, 2014
I did not read this, my 17 year old son had to read this for summer reading at school. I am an avid reader, and it has been my life goal to make him love books. I have failed in this quest. If you could see the hundreds and hundreds of dollars I have spent on books for him, and read to him ,etc., you would be envious. I don't know what it was about this book, but he fell in love with it, and stayed up all night reading it. He even told me he cried at the end. So....WOW. A lot of parents were up in arms about the content of it, and said it was not appropriate for teens to read for school. I am not concerned about that, my son is pretty aware of world stuff by now...so I am giving this a 5 star for my son.
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