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Showing 1-10 of 3,330 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 4,525 reviews
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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on May 19, 2016
Well written, characters that you can empathize with, and clever. While this is a book about teenagers, I wouldn't hand this to a 12 year old though. There is mature content. I will say, I love books that portray value in being different and the acceptance in being smart. It confronts real life elements in life like loss, guilt, and forgiveness. Excellent read.
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on April 17, 2014
Having just written a review for "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," I was a bit apprehensive about writing another review for another "coming of age" story. I mentioned before that I'm a bit of a sucker for these books, but this one definitely exceeded my expectations.

I don't want to spoil anything, so all I'll say is that there is a twist to this one in the – sometimes – formulaic plot structure. I didn't want it to happen, kind of knew it was going to as I reached it, and then couldn't imagine the story without it.

There's a lot of philosophical questioning going on throughout the novel, which can lead to good discussions. The story doesn't resolve in a way that gives you a black and white answer to those questions, which is good, because I often don't agree with their "answer" anyway. Instead, it allows the you, the reader, the chance to answer the question a bit on your own.

I also can't recall the last time I started and finished a book in one day. I'm not a fast reader and, at just under 250 pages, "Looking for Alaska" was kind of a hefty feat for me to achieve.
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on June 26, 2015
One of the more compelling works grappling with existentialism I've read, one that brings characters to life in a way I've rarely seen or felt in a lifetime of reading. Mr. Green has achieved something I would have said was impossible - he's created in Pudge, the narrator, a completely and totally ordinary kid who isn't cool or special, but is as real as your neighbor kid cutting the lawn - and made the reader travel and extraordinary and heartbreaking journey with him, leaving both Pudge and the reader changed irrevocably - if rather inexplicably - for having known Alaska. She herself is not ordinary, though I wish fewer teens suffered the emotional extremes and self-hatred that she does. Alaska is all about drama - but it's Pudge that somehow walks into my heart and learns to live there with the extraordinary purity and grace of an ordinary kid who somehow carries all of us with him on his journey. Okay, enough low-spoiler vagueness worthy of Alaska! Just read the book, and be patient with the somewhat slow start. It's worth persevering and getting to know these kids.
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on August 20, 2013
About less than half way through this book, I thought "Man, this kind of reminds me of Paper Towns (which I loved)." Obviously, since I liked Paper Towns, I didn't care if this book was similar to it but I was kind of disappointed. The way Alaska and Margo are both flamboyant characters, Miles and Quentin are both smart but shelled boys, and how there is a group of friends trying to discover the mystery of both girls. I did not think I would be giving this book five stars, but I found out as I continued to read Looking for Alaska, how much both novels differ and how I adore them both for different reasons.

I love this idea of living to find "the Great Perhaps" of living life knowing that there is something better out there calling for you because it teaches us not to settle, and to always strive for happiness. The whole boarding school experience-with the dorming, meeting new friends, and being away from one's parents-definitely reminded me of college days that I wish I could still revisit. It's a great moment in a student's life to be away from the comfort of home, and make a completely alien place a second home and to make strangers a second family.

It's funny because like Q in Paper Towns, I did not really have a lot in common with Miles but that doesn't take away from the story as much as I thought it would. Usually, it is a big no-no to read a book and to feel disconnected with the narrator who is basically the navigator of the story-if I don't like where he/she is leading me, then I might as well hop off the chariot and find a new book to read. But there was something about Miles, in his naiveness and kindness, that drew me to him and I found myself continuing to flip through the pages.

John Green is such a fantastic writer, and each of his books teach unforgettable lessons. He addresses feelings and wonders that I have had and some in which I still fight with, and shows me that there are other people who feel the same way and it is nothing to feel perplex about. It is the way he writes about nerve wrecking topics such as-death, lost, regret, ect-in which I feel as if I understand my feelings better, just by reading the feelings of the characters and I feel as if there is something quite magical in that.

I am one of those people who lives by quotes, and damn did this book have some amazing "to live" by quotes.

Looking for Alaska was a great, and most importantly, memorable read. It was heartwarming in a way that only John Green's books can be.
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on August 2, 2014
This is my second John Green novel. I loved “The Fault in Our Stars” and became curious about him and his books. I think John Green is a brilliant writer in his own way. He has a knack for weaving interesting and profound themes into his stories in a very intelligent manner that is relatable. He also has a knack for weaving relevant literary references and literary devices into his stories. His books are packed with allegory, allusion and imagery among other things.

Looking For Alaska is the story of a smart and lonely teenaged boy named Miles “Pudge” Halter and his quest for “The Great Perhaps”. He search inspires him to leave his public school in Florida for a boarding school in Alabama where he meets an eclectic cast of characters who ultimately become his best friends. Life is immediately looking up for him with this move because this the first time that he’s actually ever had an honest to goodness circle of friends.

One of those new friends is the beautiful, carefree and very moody and mercurial Alaska Young. Meeting Alaska changes Miles’ life forever. I won’t spoil the story any further by explaining why Miles and his new found friends are “Looking For Alaska”, but their search teaches them a lot about life and loss and friendship and loyalty.

I think this is a very good coming of age novel. It’s YA, but some parents may want a heads up to the fact that the book does contain some things like mischievous teens that prank and haze others, smoking, drinking, cussing and some sex/promiscuity. If your tween or teen doesn’t yet know anything about oral sex, you might want to have some discussion with them about it before/while allowing them to read this. Perhaps this book could even be a great way to gently ease into those types of discussions for those parents who struggle with how to broach those types of subjects. I didn’t find it to be too graphic or inappropriate, though nor does it detract from the story. The book is not about teens smoking and drinking and having sex. The story is really about teens that are struggling to find themselves, find a place in the world where they “belong” and find their own personal versions of “The Great Perhaps”.
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on July 6, 2014
Yikes! oral sex on a first date in a YA novel...

Though Miles "Pudge" Halter is a somewhat more appealing coming of age narrator than the boring Holden Caulfield, I was, as both high school English teacher and parent of a son and daughter, more than a little shocked by the gallons of alcohol and countless number of cigarettes smoked by the charismatic, but self-destructive Alaska and her prank-obsessed clique at the Culver Creek Boarding School in Alabama.

Would I want my own son and daughter reading this novel?

Should I timidly place Green's award-winning book on the overcrowded, independent reading bookshelf in my classroom and risk being chewed out by an outraged parent, dragged before the school board, and fired? (Fired being the modern day equivalent of the state approved poisoning of Socrates by the powers that be/were for corrupting the minds and morals of Athenian youth)

I have taught at both public and prep schools, secular and religious, in big city and small. More than anything I hope to inspire my students to be--well, life-long readers who are book crazy, who get deeply and deliriously moved by what the characters in books DO and choose NOT TO DO, thinking and feeling deeply, so they can become--and I know this sounds corny--better people and wiser citizens of Planet Teen. (I hereby amend Sartre's definition of existentialism: "We are what we do" to "We are what we don't do") when it comes to the big and small matters of the heart.

The writer part of me thinks that Green's "famous last words" is a gimmick, but the reader part of me was deeply moved and truly enjoyed discovering the last words of Tom Edison and others.

In today's hurly burly society with digital gadgets galore, reading is one of the last few places where a young adult gets time to THINK. And teens will think when they read "Looking for Alaska". No parent wants his or her teen to get into a car drunk. Every parent hopes that if the teen does, true friends will arm wrestle the keys away, if necessary, because drunk driving has tragic consequences; and yes, we are all responsible for one another--especially the teen bystander who has the most power to help a friend in need.

The "before" and "after" structure of Green's inventive novel, gives teen readers space to think about the life and death choices they make and cannot unmake. There's a lot of talk in high schools about consequences and teen's taking responsibility for their choices. In fiction, students get to live many lives, walk in the shoes of teens who are alike and different from them, and hopefully become more discerning, more compassionate. More. Few of us will become as rich or as successful as John Green. But all of us have a chance to be that Good Samaritan, the one who makes the difference in somebody else's life among our own circle of friends.

So, despite the vulgarity, despite the wholly offensive oral sex scene which the Catholic mother in me wants rip out (my heart aches for Lara), I reservedly praise this controversial novel. Because I think, I hope what John Green is trying to do, besides earn money as an author, is tell a good and perhaps even wise story that encourages teens to press the pause button, to stop and reflect on what happens after you have clumsy, unromantic sex, and the boy dumps you, to think about how your behavior may or may not be enabling what may very well become a lifelong addiction for another, more vulnerable human being. Readers of LFA will discover what goes terribly awry when unresolved grief eats away at you, discover what is it like to be the nerd, the trailer trash scholarship geek, the rich preppie, and the desperately seeking bipolar alcoholic who though pretty and smart is profoundly unhappy.

My favorite character was the Old Man, the old-fashioned religious philosophy teacher. But, there was a character missing in this novel--the guidance counselor, that caring adult, a teacher or janitor somebody grown-up who would have discerned how lost and on the edge Alaska was, and helped her heal from the guilt surrounding the death of her mother. Unlike Margot Roth Spiegelman in "Paper Towns", I found Alaska Young to be a deeply sympathetic, dangerous character who betrays her roommate, Lara, and Miles. In many ways, this is a very ethical book. Miles goes the distance is looking, not just for Alaska and the Great Perhaps of whether she committed suicide or not, he goes the spiritual miles of looking for forgiveness, a very Christian idea.

BTW, my own nephew, the irreplaceable and wholly awesome Mark Jr, was killed by a drunk teen driver, when he himself was just a teen. By some fault in the stars, I read "Looking for Alaska" near the anniversary of Mark Jr.'s death.

I give "Looking for Alaska" four stars, minus one for the obvious parental reasons. I would consider teaching it in a community college freshman class, but nope, not high school,even thought it has all the hot button topics that need to be discussed in the high school classroom.

I reserve five stars for Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' sublime "The Yearling" and Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women". They sure don't write YA novels like they use to. And that is truly a shame. A coda to best selling and immensely talented YA author, John Green: "less is more" when it comes to all things vulgar in YA novels. You do, as an artist, have a responsibility to your impressionable YA readers and our culture at large to uplift both. Yes, I know: "Romeo and Juliet" has vulgar language and bawdy scenes too, but I won't get fired for teaching Shakespeare. This novel is not representative of the "average" American teen; it is a rich white boy's lament, which is why it fails--like the "Knock, Knock" joke.
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on May 10, 2017
I cannot express how well John Green did with this book. Ive read probably 20 times since my freshmen year of high school.
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