Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lily's Review of Looking for Alaska, by John Green

Looking for AlaskaMiles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green's arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

Published December 28th 2006 by Speak

Lily's Rating: didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it (my current rating) it was amazing  


This is most definitely a 'coming of age' novel. It came very highly recommended through the Absinthe & Ink Book Club in, of which I am a proud member. So far, the recommended books that I have managed to get to, while doing my part in keeping this blog active, have been excellent.

This novel is no exception. 

For a debut novel, the description is absolutely correct and I could not agree more. It is stunning. It is very well written. 

The plot and characters are so well built and developed, I swear that I felt like a silent partner in all their mishaps, trouble making, antics.... I felt like I was right there along with all these wonderful and colorful characters. From timid & gangly Miles, witty Takumi, fun loving Chip to of course, Alaska.. who is full of demons and life, mischief, laughter... 

And the pranks... oh the pranks! How this brought an array of memories of elementary/highschool years, of carefully planned out antics, executed flawlessly by myself and my own group of fellow troublemakers. 

1. The time I stole uh borrowed my dad's screwdriver and carefully partially unscrewed the bolts from my math teacher's chair. That was a spectacle that earned me a week's detention washing chalkboards...

2. Stealing all the chalk from the science lab, and replacing it with perfectly sized toothpaste blobs. Thankfully that teacher had a great sense of humor.

3. Stealing the projector from that same science teacher (That's what a great sense of humor gets you!!) and leaving a ransom note.


Good times.

This novel had section headings of a day count down. I found myself wondering what the count down was leading up to. I found myself reading faster and faster, trying to get to, what was amounting to be, a huge turning point in this novel. And boy... was I right.

A tragic event changes the lives of this young group forever.  Their lives come to a halt, as they all individually try to understand it, and deal with it the best way they can. The roller-coaster of emotions in the remaining part of this novel were intense, believable and difficult to read. It brought a lot of my own emotions and thoughts to the surface, as I recently went through a similar event along with a group of friends. I am much older than the characters in this novel, but it was difficult and emotional for me to read through their attempts at coming to terms with what happened because I could relate to them so well. Their obsession with finding out the truth of what happened that night rung deep.  Their deep sadness and struggles, their wishes of having wanted to turn back time, do things differently, say things left unsaid were very familiar. 

Yes, personal life events maybe played a part in it, but the writer was so successful in making the conflict feel so believable, that I do have to agree, that this novel was indeed stunning.  It made me stop again and think about my life, and the connections that I have with so many great friends, and how grateful I am for the laughs, and the good times, for their support, and how difficult it would be to be without one of them.  And it made me think on really fun trivial times that had me in stitches; moments in my youth that I had not thought about in years.

It was a 'real' story. One with an array of full bodied characters, filled with many emotions and situations. It was a novel about tragedy and life. It was sad, serious and fun. It was gut wrenching and heart crushing.  But it also oozes inspiration and hope in finding your own "Great Perhaps". 

“Thomas Edison's last words were 'It's very beautiful over there'. I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful.”
John Green, Looking for Alaska

Purchase Links:

About the Author:
(pic & bio from Goodreads)

John Green's first novel, Looking for Alaska, won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award presented by the American Library Association. His second novel, An Abundance of Katherines, was a 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His next novel, Paper Towns, is a New York Times bestseller and won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best YA Mystery. In January 2012, his most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars, was met with wide critical acclaim, unprecedented in Green's career. The praise included rave reviews in Time Magazine and The New York Times, on NPR, and from award-winning author Markus Zusak. The book also topped the New York Times Children's Paperback Bestseller list for several weeks. Green has also coauthored a book with David Levithan called Will Grayson, Will Grayson, published in 2010. The film rights for all his books, with the exception of Will Grayson Will Grayson, have been optioned to major Hollywood Studios.




  1. Great review, Lily! I agree with you. This was my first John Green novel and, after having just finished The Fault in Our Stars, I'm a definite fan.

    Tell us about some of those schoolyard pranks of yours. ;) lol

    1. HAHA the top three are in the review! There were so many, but those were the most memorable. That chalk thing was great! Do you know how hard it is to squeeze out a perfect chalk shape out of a tube of toothpaste???


  2. Unfortunately, I don't. lol I feel as if my life is missing something. ;)

    SPOILER: Were you surprised/stunned at Alaska's fate?

    1. Absolutely. I honestly didn't see that particular fate being hers.

  3. SPOILER: Me too. I actually had to reread that passage several times to make any sense of it. It just couldn't be so, I thought. It certainly changed the flavor of the novel for me, it transformed in a single instant from a joyous romp to a dark and serious journey into loss. It was John's ability to switch gears like this that made me a fan of his.

    On the plus side, when I read my second Green novel, The Fault in Our Stars, I wasn't shocked by the end. I expected it. ;)


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