Looking for Alaska by John Green | Teen Ink

Looking for Alaska by John Green

October 21, 2013
By Christie Costello BRONZE, Trumbull, Connecticut
Christie Costello BRONZE, Trumbull, Connecticut
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

First friend, first girl, last words. Looking for Alaska, written by John Green, is a story that will leave the reader moved by the characters, storyline, and find out things about themselves they may have never known.
Miles “Pudge” Hatter is tired of his lonely, dull life in Florida and convinces his parents to let him attend Culver Creek Prep School in Alabama. Because of his obsession with last words of famous people, he uses Francois Rabelais’s "I go to seek a Great Perhaps" as reasoning for choosing boarding school in his junior year. “Francois Rabelais. He was a poet. And his last words were "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." That's why I'm going. So I don't have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps” (54).
Upon arriving, Pudge meets his roommate, Chip, also known as “The Colenel” who soon introduces him to Alaska Young. Alaska is wild, moody, self-destructive, impulsive, beautiful, and enigmatic girl who captures Pudges’ attention and heart. Despite the complications of their relationship, he continues to hopelessly fall in love with Alaska as each day goes by “I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane” (88).
The night of his first day at Culver Creek, Pudge is pulled out of his bed, duct-taped, and tossed into a close by lake which sparks a prank war between the Weekday Warriors (the rich kids at school) and Pudge’s group of friends. The Colonel believes that “God will punish the wicked, and before He does, we will” (71), which is why he strongly invests his time in these prank wars throughout the novel.
In between all the pranks, Alaska emphasizes to Pudge that she wishes to escape some sort of labyrinth. “How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!”So what’s the labyrinth?’ I asked her… That’s the mystery, isn’t it? Is the labyrinth living or dying? Which is he trying to escape- the world or the end of it?” (19) This “labyrinth” becomes a central discussion encompassing all characters at one point, especially from the middle to the end of the novel. About halfway through the book a tragedy occurs, and those left spend the rest of the book trying to comprehend it, solve the mystery it leaves behind, and pull off one last memorable prank.
Regarding the author’s qualifications, John Green graduated from Kenyon College in 2000 with a double major in English and Religious Studies. Green lived in Chicago for several years, where he worked for the book review journal Booklist as a production editor and publishing assistant. He also reviewed hundreds of books, particularly literary fiction. In addition, he critiqued novels for The New York Times Book Review. Looking for Alaska, which was his first novel, was mostly inspired by his experience at Indiana Springs School, a boarding school in Birmingham, Alabama and he was compelled to write this novel as a somewhat autobiography of his own experiences at there. This book made the ALA's annual list Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults and undoubtedly deserved it.
As the first novel written by John Green, Looking for Alaska set the standard high. This book is flawlessly written, moving, passionate, and stimulating. All the characters in the novel are vividly real and can create connections with their audience. They no longer seem like fictional characters, but rather real people that have similar problems and ideas as young adults nowadays. Because of this, readers are able to recognize their own search for self identity or labyrinths they must escape through Alaska and Pudge. John Green is able to put ideas into such words and phrases of utter beauty.
Overall, I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to kids in high school due to the maturity level. The characters in this story showed me the good and bad parts of life and still made me want to live through them. Not only was it thought provoking, but also showed me how to find my own way out of the labyrinth. This novel was a tough one to put down and generated a spectrum of emotions with each page. Green was awarded the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award for Looking for Alaska and was well earned. This heart wrenching novel can show people a lot about themselves, whether they are searching for a Great Perhaps or simply stuck in a labyrinth.


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