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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 December 9, 2014
Miles Halter found his Great Perhaps and then some when he meets Alaska Young at a co-ed boarding school he enrolls at in Alabama. His claim to fame is memorizing famous peoples last words, which he quotes throughout the book. This is a coming of age novel about how Miles "Pudge" searches for himself and his place in the world, and what his beliefs are and how he comes to find the answer to some of life's most difficult questions that we all have to face. I've had this book on my Kindle for a long time but have been reluctant to read it because I was so disappointed by The Fault in our Stars. Luckily, this was nothing like that, far better and I wish I'd read Looking for Alaska before reading The Fault in our Stars so my opinion of John Green wouldn't have had such an awful first impression (did I mention I didn't like The Fault in Our Stars?). It's a quick read, I used it to break up the Game of Throne and the Outlander series' that I've been reading, needed something different and this was the perfect 2 day break. I give it 5 stars and recommend it to anyone of any age, not just YA. I'm now more optimistic about reading more of Green's books.
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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 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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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 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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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 September 11, 2016
John Green never ceases to entice his readers and fully submerge them into the complex worlds he creates within each of his novels. Throughout, this book is upbeat and has a wonderful pace to keep every reading level entertained. Looking for Alaska is guaranteed to keep you inside all day reading, and if you're determined it may only take you a day! Until the end the twists are not overly dramatic, but when they happen everything begins to make sense and the reader starts to really piece together who Alaska is. This is a light hearted must read and will have you clinging onto what is going to happen until the very end.
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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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