Looking for Alaska
by John Green
reviewed by Riley Frey
Looking for Alaska, by John Green, begins with a friendless teen named Miles going to boarding school, seeking “a Great Perhaps”. Miles (or “Pudge”) quickly befriends his roommate, who goes by “the Colonel”, and his friends, Takumi, and Alaska. Pudge is immediately drawn to Alaska, a beautiful, smart, alluring girl who he becomes increasingly enamored with as the book progresses. After finding a group, Pudge becomes swept up in his new life at the school. In addition getting homework done and attending classes, the characters have a rich life outside of school. The students somehow find time to prank their enemies and sneak off campus while still maintaining decent grades. The book is split into two sections, “before” and “after” divided by a tragic event that personally affects all the characters.
For me, one of the most refreshing things about this story is the original take on young adult fiction. The author is able to keep the book interesting while still teaching valuable lessons, and addressing many different issues, such as how to deal with grief in a healthy way. In addition to classes and schoolwork, the author describes life for boarding students, with pranks and alcohol often making an appearance. Nothing is sugar coated in this book, and you are given your fair share of the good, the bad, and the messy. The plot will draw you in from the start, and keep you interested with suspense, sadness, and plenty of humor. Looking for Alaska is a deeply thought provoking story that will leave you contemplative long after you have finished reading.