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on March 30, 2005
...and read this book in one sitting. Okay, it's short and incredibly good, which makes it easy to bolt down. But then you are going to feel like an idiot for not savoring the pleasure, and you're going to be bleary as hell the next day (if you finish it at 4 in the morning, like I did).

This book deals with the Big Ones: suffering, loss, and grief, but it does so with such compassion and humor that the net impact is uplifting. Even the principal turns out to be a human being. There are no cardboard cut-out characters here.

Be aware that the kids in this story do what kids actually do (smoke, drink, and have sex). If that bothers you, read it anyway. There are more important things in life than observing proprieties and pretending that bright kids aren't exploratory. You don't have to approve of these characters. It is enough to love them and learn from them.
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on May 7, 2016
This is about teenage suicide. This is already a distressing, horrible topic and I think if I knew that before I started reading, I would not have read it. I would not recommend it to my teenage so. It is a very emotional ride.

I have previously read The Virgin Suicides and Thirteen Reasons, both excellent novels about a similar topic. From reading samples and reviews before I began, I was prepared for the topic of those books. Having said that, this book is better.

Alaska Young is an adventuresome free spirit. Her closest friends do not really know her, and she wants it that way. She frequently answers with lines such as “I’m unpredictable.” There are frequent mood acting outs, but we never really get to the why of them.

Miles and Chip are roommates at an Alabama boarding school where the novel takes place. Miles is a person with few friends, either at the boarding school or at his home. Roommate Chip has a dysfunctional family and wants to be addressed as Colonel. After introductions, they go to meet Alaska, a girl who has a single room because her roommate was expelled the previous term. As relationships develop, there is a center point of smoking, almost sexual incidents (and one semi-explicit one) and pranks played on other students, each other, or the Eagle, dean of students. A central moral code is emphasized “Never rat,” or its equivalents of never squeal, and never tell. Like someone told on Alaska’s roommate. No one knows who informed on Mary, but Takumi, a new friend, has made it his mission to find out.

In the table of contents there is “Before” and “After.” A suicide divides the book almost in half. The first half is entertaining reading in its descriptions of teenage angst suffered by teenagers trying to survive and establish identities at a boarding school. The second half begins on page 135 with the notification to the student body of a suicide. Predictably depressing descriptions of reactions of class colleagues do not make for entertaining reading.

Pages 216-224 are what makes this book the best of the three mentioned in this review. There is a lot of speculation on the meaning of life delivered through a mechanism of examination of “last words.” I found this to be a very clever device. I used a highlighter on most of these pages and far more than any other part of the book.

Don’t forget to look at the authors endnotes and guide. I found these best examined after taking a couple of days break after finishing the book. They are also entertaining.
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on January 31, 2017
If you are looking for a realistic fiction that makes you think, then this is the book for you. This is one of the most interesting mind boggling books I have ever read. Looking for Alaska by John Greene is a very interesting book, and I would have never thought that I would like that type of book usually, but I am so glad I read it. John Greene's work is all kind of similar I would compare this book to Paper Towns. Looking for Alaska takes place in a Boarding School in Alabama. The main character is Miles Halter, aka Pudge. Pudge goes to a boarding school where he meets his three best friends Takumi, The Colonel, and last but not least Alaska, a weird and complicated girl. What Pudge does not know is that this time in Alabama will be mysterious and fun. I would give this book four out of five stars. It was amazing.
The setting of the book is a boarding school called Creek Preparatory School. I really liked how they incorporated the setting into the theme of the story. I definetly thought that this was the perfect setting for this book. The characters were raw and exciting. The Colonel is Pudge's best friend, and he is very smart and authentic. This whole story is funny because of him. Alaska is purely honest and has a lot of problems but is really unique and exciting and loves to read. Takumi is the quieter one of the group but still fun. Last but not least is Miles Halter. Miles Halter is very innocent and young minded. Miles Halter is obsessed with last words. Each one of these characters has a special interest in something like last words.
The conflict in this story is when Alaska dies. They keep on telling him that Alaska committed suicide but they don't know, so the whole story is them trying to find out what happened. The message this book is trying to portray is that things aren't always what they seem. Throughout this story there are huge surprises especially with Alaska theres a lot of unexpected twists.
This book is full of intellectual and outstanding work. It is very well written, very well composed. I would recommend this book to people who love romance, mystery, and comedy. This book is a book that I would recommend to hardcore readers. It is a very famous book and very well known. John Greene is an author that is very well known and is popular all around. Something unique about this book is the fact that inside the cover and in the back of the book are comments and questions for the author that he answered, so please take the time to read this book.
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on March 17, 2017
The three characteristics of a John Green book: a so called "enigma", a perpetually discontent character, and an ending that makes you contemplate the human condition. To be quite honest, I was not impressed with this book by the end of the "before"half. The first half essentially centers around Pudge's life altering experience at a new boarding school in Alabama, with it being sectioned into the number if days before the "Great Perhaps". See, Pudge is obsessed with last words, and to reference one of the most notable he's read, he claims he is on the hunt for his Great Perhaps. This experience includes befriending the mysterious Alaska Young, Chip"Colonel", Takumi, Lara, and many explicit activities. The thing I found most annoying was the characters' decisions which made them rather unrelatable. The group engaged in drinking, smoking, and sexual activities very often, which, due to its descriptive nature, left me feeling rather uncomfortable. It felt contrived, as if Green was trying to make the character "relatable to teens" but fell flat with characters like Alaska who seemed to moan a lot about their discontentment. Call me a goody goody, but when I read this type of thing it just leaves me feeling annoyed and reminds me of that group of kids that never try their best and drink away their issues. I think part of what made TFIOS so great was that it's character's were more normal- they felt excluded at times, they felt different, and their plotline didn't revolve around some teenage angst, if anything it poked fun at it. Despite this, the book did have its great moments, especially in the form of Pudge's religion class. Alaska continuously referenced "the end of the Labyrinth", a reference to Simon Bolivar's supposed last words. In the second half of the book, this becomes especially relevant when Pudge and co. are trying to unravel (SPOILER) Alaska's death. I don't know how to properly justify it, but at the end I was left in awe and had never felt the need to highlights much as I did on those last 2 pages. In his final essay fir his religion class , Pudge writes about what gives us hope, making our time in the Labyrinth of life more bearable, and coping with the pain of loss among other topics loosely related to the thought of an afterlife. I really think the book got its greater time to shine in the absence of Alaska(the "after" part), as this is when all the smoking and drinking fell into the background and the take away lesson took the forefront. By the end, the audience is allowed to contemplate how all the small things we stress over are not that significant because, ultimately, one moment can be your last. Something we fear can be so insignificant in the end and all that we hope for is just a way of coping with that labyrinth. Green makes a good point in(at least what was brought to my attention) that all those awful things are survivable; we are afraid of losing and failing, but "we are as invincible as we believe ourselves to be". Maybe we are all looking for our Great Perhaps.
Rating:3.5-4 stars. The novel does indeed pack an emotional punch that I think you'd have to read to fully understand
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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 July 3, 2012
I really loved this book. Mr Green does an excellent job in capturing the very essence of what makes these characters tick. Of who they are. No matter how out of left field they may seem at times. They were real. And they had real issues. This one is a very entertaining, heartfelt, endearing, and at times a hilarious read. I had plenty of laugh out loud moments with this one.

This story is the story of Miles. A 16 year old average boy who leaves his home in Florida by choice, to attend a boarding school in Alabama.
There, his world is opened up. Mainly surrounded by the people he meets and the experiences that come with that. Good and Bad. But ultimately it causes him to find himself. This is just one of those stories that sucks you in and keeps you there. But you're always aware that something tragic is about to happen.

I could have done without all the "Detective" work that came about in the middle of the second half of this book. It just didn't really read as a realistic event concerning these characters to me, and I was really wishing that during this time, it would have taken a different route. But the internal struggles that Miles and his friends go through rang true for me. And is what kept me reading through to the end. And how the "answer" came about surprised me. In a good way.

All in all this one is a great read. I highly recommend this one.
I have to say this though.. Although I got her, I really could not stand Alaska! LOL
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on May 3, 2016
Let me preface by saying that I'm an adult reading/reviewing this book, and perhaps someone a bit younger would give it 5 stars.

That said, I thought the characters in the book were truly well-developed and added value to the story. The book is set in two halves: Before and After. I found Before to be the most exciting and fast-paced, but After was more introspective and thoughtful. The message was meaningful and actually made me think a little. I only give this 4 stars instead of 5, because I saw the ending coming from a mile away. These kids spent the second half of the book trying to discover something I already knew. Their insight and thoughts in the end still add meaning to the book, but I wished for a little more suspense - an aha moment.
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on September 4, 2016
I thought this book was well written but I think I'm 25-30 years too old to appreciate it. If I was 18, I think I would have related more to the struggles of the main characters in the book and how they respond when something happens to one of their fellow students. I'm trying to be cryptic so I don't reveal too much and spoil it for others but I think that one of the benefits of being older is that you're able to better process the crap that life throws at you and the experiences over the years enable you to learn how to cope and move on. I would much rather be my older self with the wisdom and experiences of life and would not like to be 17 or 18 again for anything! The characters in this book find it really hard to cope with 'said event' and to move forward. To me, the fact that much of this book was devoted to this struggle was much ado about nothing and there really wasn't much to keep me interested and turning the pages. I had to force myself to labor through this and it took several weeks for me to finally finish it.
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on January 28, 2017
I loved the book, as probably every other reviewer did. I won't, then, repeat what about its awesomeness you can find in other reviews. I'll just point out I found the structure of the story (the before and the after chapters) quite innovative, ingenious, and working the best. What else can one say that's not too much? Another brilliant take on depression that's not "Oh I'm so sad and gloomy and I will cling to you so you'll want to get rid of me asap". Funny actually and still terrifyingly serious.
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on March 13, 2017
The merits of John Green's novel stand in the way it starts conversations about big issues in the small universe of a campus.
*Spoilers ahead!* Although heartbreaking, it digs and brings out to light two ugly issues in all of their painful glory: drunk driving and suicide. From this point of view the book has an undeniable educational aspect (besides the literary merits) and should be a recommended read for everyone, teenager or adult.
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