Genres: Young adult, contemporary.
Miles Halter is discontent with having no friends at his public school and so he leaves his previous life behind, goes in search of the “Great Perhaps”, and attends Culver Creek Preparatory School as a boarder. It’s at Culver Creek where he befriends his roommate Chip Martin aka The Colonel and the mysterious Alaska Young. The trio grow close and embark on a school year filled with epic pranks, not-so-discreet smoking and drinking, spontaneous makeout sessions, and enlightening discoveries about friends, family, and life.
Looking for Alaska was #1 on my mental “must read but extremely worried that I’ll dislike it” list. It had been recommended to me many times and I constantly saw comments about how poignant and brilliant it was. I’d previously enjoyed Paper Towns, but Looking for Alaska was the Big One. Thankfully, it exceeded my expectations.
I already gathered that John Green had a knack for understanding teenagers, but this was realised even more so in this novel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about experiences that Miles aka Pudge and the gang go through, combined with their intelligent cynicism and banter. I think that characters are the most important thing in young adult contemporary literature because without them, all you have is the real world. Looking for Alaska does not have characters; it has people that you’ll empathise with and desperately want to know more about.
While reading Looking for Alaska, I loved coming across things I’d heard about through the grapevine: the hurricane/drizzle metaphor, the significance of the daisy (which consequently made me want the original UK edition even more), and the reasons why Alaska Young was a beloved character. Although Alaska’s probably the polar opposite to me in many ways, I admired her so much. She’s not infallible, but this is why she’s adored. She has flaws and annoying habits, but Miles loves her anyway. Although I had a basic idea of what the book was about before beginning, I didn’t realise how witty and humorous it would be. Until The Last Day. Even though I had an idea about what might happen, I wasn’t emotionally prepared.
Looking for Alaska lives up to its hype: the wonderful, moving début novel by a cherished young adult author. It’s a novel that will stay with you for a long time, while you’re looking for your own “Great Perhaps”.