Author: John Green
Published: 2005 (Speak)
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
After. Nothing is ever the same.
Cover Thoughts: I love how basic the cover is. The like the smoke on the cover as smoking was a big thing in the book.
First Line: The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going-away party.
Looking For Alaska immediately reminded me of the movie (500) Days of Summer in which it counts down days, the first being “136 days before”. I was interested in the story due to that reason. I was wondering what was going to happen or what had happened. I was reminded of the movie again because of Miles’ immediate attraction to Alaska. Something I liked about Miles is that he didn’t act like Alaska was flawless, he was annoyed at her at times and wanted to roll his eyes.
I felt all three main characters were well developed. They were all likable and relatable while having their faults. Miles, The Colonel and Alaska had very interesting quirks or hobbies they did which made them seem more real.
Miles read biographies of writers without reading the writers’ work and was extremely fascinated by their last words. I thought this was an eccentric hobby which encouraged me to look up people’s dying/last words. While Miles sometimes got annoyed with Alaska, I was still disappointed in how he seemed to worship her. I didn’t like the way he acted with Lara when being in a relationship either because he basically mentally cheated on her.
The Colonel would memorize the names of all the countries in the world. He later goes and memorizes the countries capitals as well. In Looking For Alaska, we discover why Colonel isn’t fond of the Weekend Warriors, the rich kids who only board during the week then go home on weekends.
When I first began reading Looking For Alaska, Alaska seemed like the usual Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Alaska is a vague, sometimes cryptic girl who has her share of secrets. She reminded me of Sam from Perks of Being A Wallflower with not being in the cool crowd and not even caring about it.
Upon first glance Alaska is a party girl who doesn’t care about too much. She’s into pulling pranks, alcohol and having sex. Underneath all that, there’s still a mystery surrounding her in the second half of the book. Looking For Alaska will have readers looking for her as well. Alaska annoyed me at certain times when she was vague about certain questions, moody and mean. In the end though, I thought she was a very intriguing, misunderstood character similar to May in Love Letters To The Dead. Even with Alaska’s faults I was interested in her character. I found Alaska to be a very relatable character in her suffering, the distance she had from her friends and the mistakes she had made.
I really like that Miles and Alaska both read books and how like in The Fault In Our Stars, certain aspects of the books played a big part in the novel.
There are other characters we meet such as the Eagle, the school’s dean. He has what Alaska calls a “look of doom” and a swan he uses to keep students away from smoking near the lake.
There is Mr. Hyde the strict but kind World Religions character. I quickly loved Mr. Hyde with his first speech to the students telling them “And in my classes, I will talk most of the time, and you will listen most of the time. Because you may be smart, but I’ve been smart longer.” I loved that he seemed to know how to handle students and he didn’t put up with students messing around.
I enjoyed him in the book because he liked teaching and it was important that students listen. At one point in the book, Miles gets in trouble by him for staring out the window and Mr. Hyde later explains why he was upset about that. Mr. Hyde seemed very respectable and dedicated to teaching.
Lara, a love interest of Miles. Lara was an okay character for as little as she was in there. I didn’t particularly see anything too intriguing about her. There’s also Takumi who I related a bit too when he felt left out of Miles and The Colonel’s plans. Due to feeling left out, Takumi does something which I wasn’t surprised about in the book. He was an okay character as well.
Miles goes in search for the Great Perhaps after reading the last words of Francois Rabelais, a poet, who said “I go to seek a Great Perhaps”. The second big subject of the book is Alaska’s labyrinth which she read in The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
The Great Perhaps is the first big plot and subject of the book. It is because of The Great Perhaps that Miles goes to Culver Creek. It is there that he meets Alaska who she brings into her world. “Before” tells about Miles and his friends adventures as he learns more about The Great Perhaps.
The second big subject of this book involves Alaska and the labyrinth. Upon the first night of their meeting, Alaska asks Miles “How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?”. Throughout the book, Alaska mentions the labyrinth many times. We see Alaska getting deeper and further into this labyrinth.
In the “After” part of Looking For Alaska, the characters are left trying to piece together something of a mystery. I like how they went about it. It wasn’t rushed even though it happened in the last third of the book. In the end of the book, the characters are left thinking about several things, the labyrinth and how to escape.
There were a couple semi sexual scenes I felt weren’t completely necessary, but they do somewhat show what kind of person Alaska is. I feel the secondary characters (Lara, Takumi, etc.) could have been explored further. Alaska has a boyfriend but he’s only mentioned in the story a few times and only involved once. It would have been nice to know the background of his and Alaska’s relationship.
Eventually Looking For Alaska gets to the “after” part in the book. It was around this part that I began getting emotional. At this point readers are wondering what is going to happen next and what are they going to find out. If they find out.
I loved how in the beginning, Miles was searching for the Great Perhaps and by the novel’s ending, he was instead Looking For Alaska. I like how Green titled the book because it really explains Looking For Alaska. I like the ending even though there are some things we still don’t exactly find out.
Looking For Alaska is a very good book with it’s flaws. Some things were a little predictable and I thought a couple things would happen which didn’t. There is a bit of foreshadowing in this book, which I enjoyed.
Green has a natural ability to take these stories and his characters and somehow make them more than that. There’s always a deeper meaning behind the initial story.
In addition, this book is hilarious. I laughed out loud constantly while reading. I found The Colonel and Alaska really funny.
I rate this book four stars out of five. I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it. This is a well written, thought provoking novel with intriguing characters that will stick with readers afterwards.