Sixteen-year-old Miles Halter's adolescence has been one long nonevent - no challenge, no girls, no mischief, and no real friends. Seeking what Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps," he leaves Florida for a boarding school in Birmingham, AL.
His roommate, Chip, is a dirt-poor genius scholarship student with a Napoleon complex who lives to one-up the school's rich preppies. Chip's best friend is Alaska Young, with whom Miles and every other male in her orbit falls instantly in love. She is literate, articulate, and beautiful, and she exhibits a reckless combination of adventurous and self-destructive behavior. She and Chip teach Miles to drink, smoke, and plot elaborate pranks. Alaska's story unfolds in all-night bull sessions, and the depth of her unhappiness becomes obvious.
Review - I started reading this book thinking I was getting a fun-filled, jolly good times story of hijinks and tomfoolery and got another experience all together. It's for that reason that I absolutely fell in love with Looking for Alaska.
I can be a little oblivious at times so it took me awhile to notice that the book was divided into before and after sections. That added a sense of foreboding over the lighthearted beginning and made the reveal feel like a punch to the gut.
Miles is one of the most unextraordinary characters I have seen in literature and yet he makes the most interesting set of eyes for this world. His life really doesn't begin until he meets The Colonel in all his burly, vertically challenged, highly intelligent brilliance. This then propels him into friendships with the intriguing and fantastical Alaska, the almost invisible Takumi and the accented beauty Lara. It's the fantastically composed narrative that propels you on the journey with Miles - loneliness, fear, arousal, self-deprication and jealously are all prevalent, depicting a fully formed and relatable protagonist.
John Green did a great job at depicting the debilitating boring routine of boarding life and the stupid pranks teens will organise just to keep themselves entertained. (I was one of those kids sent to boarding school and let me tell you Green underplayed how heinous existance is in those places sans air conditioning.) Miles learns to be a kid with his new mates, he falls in love, finds out how not to maintain a relationship and learns that (like jail) cigarettes are the way to your roommates heart. I loved each of the characters with all of my heart. They are so deftly portrayed that I felt that they were real. After the event, I felt their loss like my own.
Green's voice really appealed to me, as I think he will to many readers. Themes of love, friendship, loyalty, regret, grief and the philosophical nature of like pepper the pages enrich this story and I can't recommend this tale enough.
Format: Paperback , 262 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenille / HarperCollins