June 5, 2010

Looking for Alaska by John Green


You are a teenager who has just made the best friends of your life and fallen in love for the first time, when one of them is taken from you.

BOOM. Gone.

Miles "Pudge" Halter, so nicknamed because he is very skinny, is an interesting and intelligent boy who is obsessed with people's last words before they die. He has just begun Culver Creek boarding school, coming to his father's alma mater in order to escape his former school and also in order to seek what French Renaissance writer Francois Rabelais called in his last words "the Great Perhaps". Pudge's roommate, Chip aka "The Colonel", and he become fast friends and The Colonel introduces Pudge to his friends, Alaska and Takumi.

Alaska Young is beautiful, intelligent, rebellious, and mysterious. Pudge quickly falls for Alaska but they do not get together because she has a boyfriend. Pudge instead gets together with a girl named Lana. The five are a close-knit group and even pull highly intricate, creative, clever pranks on "The Eagle", who is the prep school's dean/administrator. But lurking beneath Alaska's exuberant and lively personality are secrets that she has only just begun to reveal to her friends. The friends, and Pudge especially, get sucked into Alaska's "labyrinth", as she likes to call it, and the consequences are almost more than they can bear.

The story flows beautifully, the characters are three-dimensional and completely realistic, and the descriptions (showing and not telling!) put you right in the middle of Culver Creek and right in the middle of what it feels like to be a teenager. I feel that I can't believe how long it took me to read John Green. I had heard he was a wonderfully skillful storyteller and this book even won a Michael Printz award, but I had not read it yet. I am so glad I finally got to it because I was blown away. How can this be a debut novel?

I never have liked stories that take place in boarding schools/prep schools because I felt the characters always lacked depth, but this is an exception. I also liked the way the chapters were broken down into "Before" and "After", and how each chapter tells you how many days before and after so you keep up with the time line.

This is a book that delves into the great mysteries of life and love as a young adult, and can even reach those of us who have already been there. If you have not yet picked up this book, I highly recommend giving it a read.

THE STATISTICS:
BOOK #: 35
RATING: 4.5 Stars
6 CHALLENGES: YA Challenge, TwentyTen Challenge, RYOB, New Authors, Countdown Challenge, 100+ in 2010
GENRE: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
PUBLISHER: Dutton Books, a Penguin Group (c) 2006
FORMAT/PAGES: Hardcover/221
HEY, FCC!: I own this book, thank you very much.

9 comments:

  1. I have herd many wonderful things about John Green, but have not read anything by him as of yet. i love to read books set in boarding schools, so I like that you mention that this one has some depth.

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  2. I've always liked boarding school stories and this one sounds exceptional! Hopefully, I'll get to it soon.

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  3. This sounds wonderful, and I already have it on my shelf. I think I need to pick it up soon.

    http://laughingstars.net

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  4. I think this must be the next John Green I try.

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  5. I adored Paper Towns but haven't picked up anything else by Green. I may have to pick this one up.

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  6. I'm glad you liked it. It didn't affect me quite like you ... but I'm definitely in the minority on this one.

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  7. This was my first John Green novel. To quote The Book Lady's Blog, I have declared him "pantyworthy" based on this book. It truly is fantastic. The emotions, the descriptions - they are simply beautiful. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it as well!

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  8. I thought this was an impressive debut, too. I felt that John Green took risks in this first novel, which I liked.

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