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Showing 1-10 of 3,321 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 4,522 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 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 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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