Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

29 Aug

Looking for Alaska My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I had very little idea what this book was about when I started to read it for my book club.


Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (François Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy 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. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . . After. Nothing is ever the same.

On the one hand, this was a book about quirky kids at a boarding school, who have Something Very Bad happen, and they try to Deal With It. Even on that level, it is a good book. There are fun (and scary) pranks, there are boring classes where they learn more than they realize. There is smoking, drinking, and sex (or at least talk of it).

However, there is much more to Looking for Alaska.

Every time I try to write about it, I fail.

Just know this is a book with many levels, from full out fun, to explorations of consequences of our actions, to the power of guilt (short and long term), to examination of questions about the meaning of life. The language ranged from crude to beautiful. The structure was unusual, and really worked for me.

This was a really good book.

I read this book for my Book Club L.  Everyone liked it, and we had a good discussion.  Interestingly, even after we seemed to have wrapped up the book portion of our meeting, we kept coming back to some idea the book had left us with, or another aspect of the book that we wanted to explore.

I brought the Penguin Book Club Reading Guide, which was helpful– the author interview had answers to several questions that arose during the discussion.

Another book club member brought this great blog post from a very articulate young woman. She’s got a warning around the major spoilers that make up the majority of her post, but if you’ve read the book (or don’t care about spoilers) I’d suggest checking it out.


Posted by on August 29, 2009 in Book Club, books, L, reviews


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6 responses to “Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

  1. Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy)

    August 29, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I enjoyed this one, too. Like you, I wasn’t sure what it was about or what to expect when I picked it up at the library, but I’m very glad I did.

  2. nanscorner

    August 29, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    This sounds very interesting. I’ve added it to my TBR list and on Monday I’ll put my name on the waiting list for it at the library.

  3. Lisa

    August 30, 2009 at 7:18 am

    I’d not heard about this one but I’m always happy to find books that are good for book clubs and are still good reads. So often that books that make for great discussion aren’t necessarily books people actually like.

  4. Sue

    September 1, 2009 at 7:49 am

    I’ve always heard such good things about John Green’s books. I really want to read one now. Thanks for the review – I always enjoy hearing about the book group discussion, too. My two book groups are getting started up again this month after breaking for the summer. I’m reading People of the Book for one and The Year of Living Biblically for the other. Reviews to come!



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