Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Looking for Alaska

Rate this book
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 (Francois 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.

221 pages, Paperback

First published March 3, 2005

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

John Green

376 books301k followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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.

In 2007, John and his brother Hank were the hosts of a popular internet blog, "Brotherhood 2.0," where they discussed their lives, books and current events every day for a year except for weekends and holidays. They still keep a video blog, now called "The Vlog Brothers," which can be found on the Nerdfighters website, or a direct link here.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
578,763 (38%)
4 stars
475,190 (31%)
3 stars
302,984 (20%)
2 stars
98,033 (6%)
1 star
38,179 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 71,050 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
October 13, 2021
some people are careless, and in an adrenaline-fueled all-caps teen reviewing frenzy, will inadvertently give a major spoiler for this book.

avoid these people, even though ordinarily, they are pretty cool.

this is a really well-written teen fiction book. i mean, it won the printz award, i'm not discovering america here. i think i wanted to emphasize that it definitely reads like a book intended for a teen audience. and i think that me as a teen would have numbered this among my very favorite books. however, as an adult, there are a lot of years between me and the characters in this book, and i have read a lot more books than the average teen, so i am mostly jaded and ruined, but imagine me discovering this at say, 13...

1) a group of smart kids going to boarding school who read all the time and take pleasure in learning and have hundreds of books and quote marquez and rabelais. karen would have loved to have had friends like these.

2) emotionally unstable female lead who is mysterious and changeable who is not afraid of her sexuality but doesn't use it all the time to get what she wants who says tough and dramatic things like Y'all smoke to enjoy it. i smoke to die. (thirteen year old karen loves this line, grown up karen rolls her eyes)

3) drinking and smoking and fornicating that do not lead to bad grades and ruined lives. there are other causes for those things...

4) blow job tips. 'nuff said

5) brief crash course in eastern religions that would have been so exotic to small town karen.

and the structure would have been novel to young karen: countdown leading up to the event then countdown leading away from it. very cool.

so i see why the kids like it. and i liked it, too, but i think it would have been more important and surprising and enchanting to me as a kid - all the first love and first loss type stuff, all the unwritten behavioral codes between the teens and the authority figures, and the slow unravel of a mystery. very cool.

but i have a question. and it is a spoiltastic question, so i am going to put up a barrier of images to protect anyone who has not read it, and wants to. these will be subliminal suggestions that are so subtle you won't even know what is happening...

dude, seriously - why didn't jake go to alaska's funeral?? there is no reason for him not to have and there is absolutely no explanation given. it makes it easier for the author, yeah, to not have to write a confrontation scene between jake and pudge, and to have the mystery unravel more slowly, but it makes zero sense for someone so in love with his girl to not go to her funeral. seriously. dumb. i will accept any private messages about this, to keep the thread spoiler-free, but until john green tells me why, i am going to say "dumb."

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,574 reviews5,904 followers
March 23, 2016

That's me, realizing I was about to give a big one star to a super popular book on Goodreads.

It didn't stop me. This book was beyond stupid.

Miles is a little nerd boy from Florida, he is going away to boarding school hoping for a new life or maybe his "Great Perhaps". The Great Perhaps comes from a minute reference to some poet. Thrown in to this book to make it all edgy and shit. Fail.

Once he gets there his roommate (the requisite character that is so poor but super smart) befriends him. The Colonel aka Chip takes Miles (now known as Pudge) under his wing and now he has friends!

Including the super special Alaska, she is the beautiful, cool and allusive girl. She is moody and spontaneous. Of course, the boys all love her milkshake..including our Pudge.

That smoking line? It's from the book. *head-desk*

Then another thing..and this was a big one for me. John Green, you have enough dang money that if you are going to write southern characters at least try, TRY!!! to get them halfway right.
You just put every stupid stereotype known into the characters that are southern for this book. You made them all sound stupid.
If they didn't go to this wonderful boarding school that erased their accent they sounded like ignorant hicks.
I hate to tell you honey, but last time I check Florida is also in the south. They have accents too.
You lost a star just for not taking the two seconds to research southern speech. I've lived here my whole life and I have never heard someone speak like you had several characters speaking.

Anyways, for me. This book glorified the whole "oh I'm so dark" "don't you want to be me" shit. FOR ME

My southern ass will give this book a big ole "hell to the no."

(I really need that sarcasm font)

For all the little fangirls and trolls that I'm sure I'll being seeing really soon. Here's a message for you.

and bite me.

Book source: Library
Profile Image for Cristina.
299 reviews364 followers
July 13, 2021
WROTE THIS IN 2010!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I didn't like this book.

This is not what I expected to be. I hoped to find a book in the style of Stargirl (or something novel) and what did I find? A bunch of teens who try to ease their anxieties in their not-so-original vices and a sudden drama which leads to nonsense talking. All hiding, of course, in a couple of beautiful quotes that wrap all the 'inspiring-sites' on the internet, the reason I got to the book and I bet that you too.

Boring, it was so so boring.

I didn't like the characters. Alaska was unbearable (oh no wait, she was awesome if you were a character too: fantastic girl,beautiful and wonderful and ohmarrymerightnowplease, and she had to be an intelligent woman, so the author made her feminist and an avid reader, to prove she had brains), and there is no need to write about the boys because... booh.

The main character was a cronic linnet, who got lost in his difficulties (mostly, not having a girlfriend, such a big problem you see) and searching The Great Perhaps, thing he forgot to do so easily so...

What a waste of time!

2013 EDIT: almost FOUR years have passed since I read and reviewed Looking for Alaska and I hope nobody expects me to discuss anything related to the book. It's great if you loved the book but I didn't. Maybe at this time of my life I would express myself in a different way but when I wrote this I was convinced of all I said before.

After Looking for Alaska, I read other John Green's books. And I loved some of them, like really did. It's sad that Looking for Alaska didn't work for me but I think it is wonderful that it did for you. Not so many books can inspire that kind of passion :_)

Thanks everybody for your likes and comments and my apologies for not answering them anymore.

2020 EDIT: I read this MORE THAN TEN YEARS AGO (I was about 20, so before sending me to tiktok guess my actual age first, please, I could be your mother by now) and I still get comments saying the same thing over and over again and honestly... I read the comments twice in the last... two or three years. Don’t waste your time being angry at me for not sharing your thoughts about a book because If you are lucky I’ll notice next year and... well, I bet you have better things to do.

And nowadays I ONLY REVIEW IN SPANISH. So don't expect more reviews on crack like this unless you speak or understand Spanish. Thank you very much!
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 89 books232k followers
March 30, 2014
My assistant Amanda has been a John Green fan for ages, which is one of the reasons I decided to start giving his stuff a read.

I decided to start here because it was one of his first books.

After I finished this book, I went to her and asked, "Are all of John Green's books going to leave me feeling like I've had a hole kicked straight through my guts?"

"Not all of them," she said. "But yeah. Some."

I thought about this for a while, then asked her. "In Name of the Wind, when X happens, did it feel like that when you read it?"

(Except I didn't say X, obviously. I mentioned a particular scene in my first book.)

"Well," Amanda said, "Not really. His scene is more central to his book. But even so, yeah. It was kinda like that."

"Shit," I said. "Sorry about that."

So yeah. Sorry about that.
Profile Image for Sarah ❤.
1 review51 followers
September 19, 2016
I'm going to explain my emotions about this book in a billion of gifs because I love this book too much to put into words <3

So first I was like...

because Pudge was pretty cool.

Then we met the Colonel, and I did this

because the Colonel is awesome! and he got my approval.

Then we met Alaska and I go

because, who knows? She's really not that bad.

Then we really get to know her and I'm like

Then ALL this stuff happens and I don't know what to expect, because now we're at the After part, and I'm excited...

Then BAM!

And I'm like...

Because there is NO WAY that can happen and I'm pretty sure someone is playing a sick, sick joke on me.

Then I realize its not a joke, and the waterworks start flowing...

And I'm like...


Then I finally calm down...

And I'm trying to stay strong and remember it's only a book so I'm like...

Then I can't help myself and go back to ugly crying...

Then FINALLY... acceptance.

or as close as I can get to it!

Then, after all that, I realize... I LOVE THIS BOOK!
Profile Image for daph pink ♡ .
929 reviews2,995 followers
January 2, 2022
I just want to know what weed addicted brunette broke JOHN GREEN heart in highs school and gave him enough material for a decade’s worth of identical books.

I have really got nothing to say about this book. It’s shitty like all of this other books no doubt about that!!

Speaking of MILES PUDGE HALTER is a misogynistic piece of shit. Throughout the book he objectifies Alaska and cheats on Lara , he belittles Takumi and is just a whining piss baby.
Profile Image for Todd.
297 reviews20 followers
April 24, 2014
Wow. I must've skipped a bunch of pages or read the Hebrew translation or was having root canal or something because that was one terrible book. All those awards-- WHAT??? Such a clumsy story— every move of the author was heavy-handed and so transparent I felt like I was a fly on John Green's ceiling watching him go "Oh that's good-- oh that's just precious" and fall asleep in his soup again.
Miles—I mean "Pudge,"as he is deemed within minutes of his arrival at his School of Great Perhaps— may be looking for Alaska throughout this story but I sure knew her right away. She's the pretty girl who's even prettier because she's a bit damaged and makes you feel like you have a chance with her because she's a flirt. Yes, she's a hopelessly thin character, as are they all (with the exception of The Colonel). Takumi, for example, who is supposed to be one of the Big Four around whom this story revolves, is completely characterized by his unrealistic rap improvs ("My rhymin' is old school, sort of like the ancient Romans/ The Colonel's beats is sad like Arthur Miller's Willy Loman") and basically disappears from the story until required by the plot to re-emerge with More Information. Lara, Pudge's first girlfriend, is so bland she is given a Russian accent complete with long e's for short i's ("I put the stuff een the gel... and then I deed the same thing een Jeff's room") to prevent her from evaporating off the page and into THEEN ARE. In fact, each character is carefully provided with a shtick, often a savant-like "talent" that would in reality win game shows but is meant to be That Thing That Makes Him Special: The Colonel can remember capitals of countries to the point of extreme autism! Pudge knows the last words of famous people— only he's so doggone quirky that he reads the biography but not the work of the famous person! And our precious Alaska? She keeps stacks and stacks of books in her room that she intends to read (when she's done selling cigarettes to high school kids, I guess), called her life library (or something), but has wrestled with life's Big Questions alongside some very Heavy Thinking Authors, and can recite poetry, of course. Everybody is way too philosophical and literary for their own good, but god forbid the reader is allowed to think. Lest you miss the point, every moment is interpreted for you:
I finally understood that day at the Jury: Alaska wanted to show us we could trust her. Survival at Culver Creek meant loyalty, and she had ignored that. But then she'd shown me the way. She and the Colonel had taken the fall for me to show me how it was done, so I would know what to do when the time came

Ok, then—I guess that's what happened, except that's just not the way high school kids work.
Even word choice reveals fear we won't get it; if an author has to tell you FIVE TIMES in the book that the character "deadpanned" instead of "said" (the Colonel"deadpanned" three times and Pudge, just a little less dry I guess, "deadpanned" twice) then either the dialogue is not written well or the author believes it is not written well. (The former, at least).
So just hanging with these kids leaves one searching for a third dimension, but then the story itself pretty much jumps genres halfway through, from slacker-YA-Holden-mentioned-on-the-back-cover to straight mystery. Why'd she do what she did? Lest I "spoil" this story for you, I won't go into this part, but suffice it to say the above question is left out in the sun to rot while we are forced to look on, sniffing the decay.
The story doesn't work in any genre anyway. I know what the story is supposed to do— make me fall in love with Alaska, feel all warm and cozy when the four friends smoke cigarettes, shoot the breeze, and look out for one another, and care when one of them screams with cosmic agony, but alas. Maybe if I wasn't basically tapped on the shoulder and demanded these reactions I would be better at having them, but lines fall flat and soggy like cigarettes tossed casually into some cliche prep-school lake:
The Colonel let go of my sweater and I reached down and picked up the cigarettes. Not screaming, not through clenched teeth, not with the veins pulsing in my forehead, but calmly. Calmly. I looked down at the Colonel and said, "F— you."

My first Kindle read, too!

Profile Image for Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker.
596 reviews371 followers
March 10, 2023
Update- 3/10/23

Boy I was passionate 9 years ago. 🤦‍♀️ I still dislike this story but any book that gets me this worked up, deserved better from me. If you can write so well, that I become so invested into the characters, even if I hate those characters, you are a brilliant writer. Officially giving another 2 star for a total of 3 stars.

Update- 4/12/14

This review/rant receives more comments than any other book review I have. I decided to reply to a few of the comments in my review because the people that don't like my review/rant don't like it for pretty much the same reasons. First, please note there are spoilers. However, the spoilers aren't really spoilers since it doesn't affect your enjoyment or lack of enjoyment if you know the big secret. Nevertheless, a helpful few have pointed out that I have spoilers and I didn't mark them. So are you happy now?

Ok, now to another criticism. Many lovely critics bring up the same point- "maybe John Green just wanted to show a flawed character & you just don't grasp the flawed character"...blah,blah,blah, I'm paraphrasing here and kinda combining all the criticism.

All right I'll bite. Yes, Alaska is flawed. That is obvious. Ok? Did Mr. Green show how Alaska was flawed and resolve either her flaws or how others deal with her flaws if she chose not to change her ways? Nope. Still not buying my argument? Ok. Let's say for the sake of argument, Alaska was a puppy abuser. She goes around kicking puppies. Is her puppy kicking dealt with? Do any of the characters say "listen Alaska Darling, you kick one more puppy and I'm kicking your ass"? Ok, maybe that is a bit extreme, how about does Mr. Green have his characters abandon Alaska because she refuses to give up her puppy kicking ways? Nope. I know, you are saying, "listen, you stupid idiot, Alaska didn't abuse puppies, she only abused other's people's kindness, took advantage of people, emotionally manipulated people and was an all around piss poor person that used her own poor past to lash out". Oh, ok, I see what you mean, nope, not a puppy kicker...clearly I'm wrong.

Below is the old rant/review...enjoy

I'm totally going to regret putting this review in and I'll probably change it later but oh...what...the...hell....

Poor Alaska. She screwed up in her past. She blames herself for something that happened when she was a child. It caused her to be moody, withdrawn, angry, and unpredictable. It caused her to drink too much, take unnecessary risks, take advantage of other people’s kindness. One minute Alaska was fun, the life of the party, caring, and everyone’s best friend. The next minute, she was the bitch.
Poor, poor Alaska. Let’s save Alaska.

Give me a break!

Alaska acted the way she did because she could. She used her past as an excuse for her destructive behavior. Alaska’s friends enabled Alaska’s behavior because they didn’t stand up to her. In fact, they had destructive behavior that needed to be addressed as well but since this book is called “Looking for Alaska”, I’m going to focus on Alaska.

Many people had really shitty childhoods. Many people were physically and mentally abused as children. Many people were left to survive on their own as children…hungry, dirty and alone. These people didn’t grow up to use their bad childhood, their own guilt, or their past mistakes to act out, take advantage of other people, or to basically treat people like crap.

I’m not uncaring. Far from it. I have a ton of compassion. I’m too caring. But being a victim does not excuse your behavior. Being a victim does not justify your behavior. You still have to treat people with kindness, compassion, love, and honesty regardless of what struggles you survived. Get help, and then move on.

If someone is treating you wrong, call them on it. Don’t look into their past to try to explain away their behavior. That is BS. It isn’t quirkiness, it isn’t moodiness, it is abuse.

So dear Miles aka Pudge, why are you seeking Alaska’s forgiveness? You did nothing wrong except failing to recognize Alaska’s destructive behavior and failing to get away from it.

If a person is friendly, kind, caring one minute, but then angry, withdrawn the next, THEY have a problem.

If a person is drinking too much, partying to hard, ignoring authority, breaking the rules, THEY have a problem.

If you are trying to figure the above-mentioned person out, if you are trying to solve that person’s problems, figure out why they are the way they are, YOU have a problem.

I’m off my pedestal now.

I’m going to probably change this review once I stop being so irritated but for right now, I’m rolling with it. And if I didn’t “get” the true meaning of the book, well, I’m sorry; I don’t want to “get” it. I don’t care. Alaska sucked as a friend and she was a lousy human being, and she took up too much of my time by reading the book.
Profile Image for Maria.
65 reviews8,487 followers
March 22, 2020
yup. this is not the right book to read for the first time at 23 years old in 2020. yup
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.6k followers
April 25, 2021
“We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreperably broken.”

Again, I know, I'm late. This book is incredibly popular, and it's been waiting patiently in my bookshelf for at least two years now. I've read Paper Towns (which was boring af) and The Fault In Our Stars (which is one of my favourite books). Looking for Alaska was something in between.

Miles, the main character, is as interesting and charming as toast. So are his parents, but their lack of character depth is even worse. Chip, his roommate, saved me from falling asleep, and Alaska is a bit of a cliché. She is every toast-boy's fantasy, curvy, but also smart, a bookworm and feminist.

Hmm. What's the plot? Boarding school, pranks, bullies, girls with boobs, alcohol and cigarettes. Way too many cigarettes - which really annoys me. Yeah, teens smoke out of stupidity but why write about it, and, in a way, promote it. Not cool. Listen guys, smoking: not cool.

I don't get the point. I didn't feel emotionally connected to any of the characters and this lack of feelings took away the sympathy and understanding for them. This book sure is overrated, but not bad. The dialogues are okay and the pranks are fun, but I don't feel like this must have been written.

Find more of my books on Instagram
Profile Image for Megs ♥.
160 reviews1,284 followers
February 7, 2012
This was the first book I ever read by John Green. It was given to me in 2007 when I had no idea who John Green was. I wish this book had been around when I was a teen. I really enjoyed the story, but I think I would have liked it even more if I wasn't already past that point in my life. Even still, I loved this book.

Miles is in search for the great perhaps, and has a fascination with famous last words. He meets Alaska Young who is basically the girl of his dreams. Their journey together at boarding school begins and John takes us on an exciting ride in which you constantly feel there is impending doom lurking ahead.

I'm going to keep this review short, because so much has been said on this book. The writing is as great as I always expect now from JG, and the story unfolds with a great pace that makes you never want to put the book down. You will probably feel some excitement, sadness, and maybe even a little anger reading this book, but I think this book will be memorable. This is an outstanding coming-of-age novel that doesn't resort to a "happily ever after" ending, but the characters each seek closure on their own terms. The characters are well drawn, witty, and full of individual quirks. This book also includes some fun pranks, some great humor, and some shocking turns of events. I loved the "before"/"after" and the whole countdown. I thought that was a really neat tool that helped build suspense.

Looking For Alaska is a book I still love and recommend years later, and occasionally still think about. It remains my favorite JG book, and I would like to personally thank the person who gave me this book for introducing me to this wonderful writer.

Recommend to everyone, really!
Profile Image for Sarah.
237 reviews1,097 followers
April 30, 2017
I got 23 pages into this stink-bomb of a novel and had to put it down. This is exceedingly rare for me, but it's just that bad.

Our hero, Miles Halter, is a weird, spoiled kid who likes reading the ends of biographies just to get people's last words. He doesn't always even read the whole book, just the ending. Miles thinks this habit makes him deep. Miles is wrong.

We know Miles is shallow from page 3. He's leaving his public school for a fancy boarding school, and only two friends, Marie and Will, show up to bid him adieu. Miles does not appreciate this gesture because Marie and Will are dorks, theater geeks, and they like Jesus Christ Superstar, which Miles has somehow never heard of but already knows he doesn't like. Also, Will is fat. The horror.

Luckily for Miles, he is soon to escape this hellish existence of being forced to socialize with overweight people who don't recoil like demons at the name of Jesus. At his fancy-pants school, he meets Chip "The Colonel" his jerk of a roommate, but Chip's alright because he looks like "a scale model of Adonis" and he smokes.

Then there's Takumi, who's Asian and talks with his mouth full. So far, that is all we know about Takumi, and I have a horrible feeling that that is all we will ever know about Takumi.

And then there's Alaska Young- "the hottest girl in the world" who introduces herself to Miles by gleefully recounting how she got groped by a random, randy boy over the summer. Alaska is like Miles in that she loves to read (a word which here means "parse, but pretend to have read the whole thing") big nonfiction books. Usually girls who like this kind of reading don't boast about their sexual exploits, because they are mature enough not to have any. They also don't drink, smoke, or partake of drugs.

But to paraphrase Gandalf at the edge of Mirkwood, this is the John Green-verse, a world that only appears similar to ours, and we're in for all kinds of fun wherever we go.

Chip gives Miles the nickname "Pudge" because Miles is skinny. Green clearly expects us all to be rolling in the aisles over this one. Green's expectations are way off.

The night before school begins, Miles gets abducted from his room while Chip is out. The boys who take him make him a duct tape mummy and throw him in a pond, an ordeal which he miraculously survives. These three guys tried to murder him, but they were thin and attractive and didn't say anything about Jesus, so we're cool.

I neither know nor care what happens after this point. From what I've heard, Miles and Alaska make out, despite each already having a girlfriend/boyfriend, and Miles receives a sexual favor of the Bill Clinton variety from his girlfriend while Alaska looks on and gives the girl instructions. Then Alaska goes drunk-driving and dies, prompting an existential crisis on the part of her friends, who wonder if the car crash was a purposeful suicide.

They market this book to kids as young as twelve.

John Green is not a particularly good writer, despite what you might have heard. His prose isn't bad, but it's hardly the ambrosial poetry it's been marketed as. The supposedly deep thoughts of the kids are clearly tacked on - it's not natural for Alaska to go from "OMG he honked my boob" (her words, not mine) to "General Bolivar wondered 'How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?'" Every time Miles mentioned his Great Perhaps, I wanted to clobber someone. Nobody on Earth thinks, acts, or talks like this.

Green clearly fancies himself a great sage of adolescence, and his characters worthy to keep the company of the best YA protagonists. What he doesn't realize is that the great characters are great because they're not sold to the reader as perfect; rather, they are shown to be real kids with flaws and virtues. A few examples:

-Huck Finn ( The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ) is a gritty protagonist, but truly gritty, not some pampered rich kid affecting a hard life to evade moral responsibility. Huck is a weather-worn, stained pair of workman's jeans, while Miles Halter and Company are the $425 Nordstrom jeans splattered with fake mud.

-Jo March ( Little Women ), like Green's characters, is a bookworm who yearns for more adventure than her small town can provide. But unlike them, she learns the value of temperance, sacrifice, and humility.

-Anne Shirley ( Anne of Green Gables ) is superficially a lot like a Green character, a precocious reader who loves to show off her big vocabulary and Deep Thoughts. But unlike Green's nihilistic dramatis personae, Anne believes fervently in Goodness - not just in God, while that's big, but in the inherent potential of every human being. She also recognizes her mistakes and learns from them.

-Eustace Clarence Scrubb has a lot of Greenish tics. He collects bugs, and he could probably have a good conversation with Miles and Alaska about famous last words and grain elevators. Eustace looks down on his cousins the Pevensies, whom he perceives as stupid, and he keeps a journal, wherein he is the only smart or sane person in a sea of idiots who enjoy the outdoors and talk about Aslan (Christ Superstar). Eustace basically is a Green hero at the start of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader , but Lewis sees him as he is - utterly insufferable. What a pity no one could turn Miles Halter into a dragon; it might have been a character-building experience.

-Scout Finch ( To Kill a Mockingbird ) is extremely observant and intelligent, but unlike a Green kid, never puts on airs about it. She never even really recognizes how different she is from the children around her. She's nine when the story ends, but she's far more mature than Miles or any of his friends.

- Meg Murray ( A Wrinkle in Time ) is a brainiac who looks and acts like one - a mousy-haired, bespectacled dork with no discernible social life, whose best friend is her (autism spectrum?) little brother. She doesn't degrade the people around her. She just wants to save her family.

(The last two examples are from a movie and a TV show, but they're still light-years ahead of anybody in a Green book).

- Sarah Williams ( Jim Henson's Labyrinth: The Novelization ) fancies herself a genius, who's so much better than her peers that she'd rather do one-person plays in the park than interact with other high school kids. She quickly learns that she's not nearly as grown-up as she thought she was, and that by living mentally in a fantasy world, she almost lost her baby brother and got embroiled in a relationship with a rather unstable man that neither she nor he was ready for. Sarah becomes mature when she admits her immaturity. Green's people don't think they have anything to learn.

- the entire main cast of Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Scripts, Volume 1 are strange, maladjusted, and alienated from the mainstream like Green's kids are - but in realistic ways. Some of them are drug-addled partiers, others are readers and perceivers. The writers of the show understood that a wild girl like Kim Kelly, who boasts of her Maenadish adventures just like Alaska, would not enjoy reading, while a bright kid like Lindsay Weir would try pot and skipping school, but feel the whole time like she was betraying herself. Green just amalgamates incompatible personality traits without a shred of realism.

That's not even getting into the zig-zagging language of the book. Green drops heavy swear words frequently, but thinks the reader needs every bit of real information spelled out for them. At the end of chapter 1, Miles explains to his parents who Francois Rabelais was, despite the fact that his dad owns the book about Rabelais that Miles read. This unnatural dialogue reveals how dumb Green thinks his readers are.

It would have been better for Miles-as-narrator to step away from the scene and explain Rabelais briefly to the reader. Alcott, Montgomery, Lewis, L'Engle or Lee would have just had him say "As Rabelais said on his deathbed..." and leave it to the reader to find out who Rabelais was. Believe it or not, kids, there was a time when novelists knew you were smart enough to use an encyclopedia!

And what of the gratuitous crudity and innuendo in this book? Alaska is utterly objectified. The first time we meet her, she's bragging about getting felt up. To a pair of boys, no less, one of whom she doesn't even know. When she's having a supposedly deep conversation by the pond with Miles, he's more focused on her curves, which he describes over and over again in detail, than in anything she's saying. It's the Male Gaze Run Amok.

I understand that men are easily distracted by the bodies of women, especially women as beautiful as we're told Alaska is. But Miles is so filled with lust for her that it's uncomfortable to read about. If I have to read about men looking at women and being horny, I'll stick with Ovid. He can get disgusting, but he's a far superior writer to Green in any translation, and at least in Ovid many of the women do not seek to be objectified. I'll take Apollo/Daphne over Miles/Alaska any day. Also, Metamorphoses boasts such niceties as symbolism, flashes of genuine humor, and explosions.

All in all, this is a terrible book which somehow won awards and gained its author a huge, worshipful following. He has since rewritten it many times, changing the characters' names and tweaking the subject matter slightly. All his books pretend to be profound when they're really just paeans to narcissism, nihilism, and bad decisions. His fans gobble this stuff up because it makes them feel special and unique without challenging them to change their lives or examine their characters.

Worse, Green's genre can be a slippery slope to other "profound" YA novels such as the potentially harmful Thirteen Reasons Why, which in light of its alarmingly popular Netflix adaptation will soon be getting a review from me.

In short, don't give this man your money, time or brain cells.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,199 followers
April 21, 2020
My favorite from John Green. This reminds me of high school.
Profile Image for Kat (Lost in Neverland).
445 reviews702 followers
March 17, 2013

First time hearing about this book;

Friend online gushes on how amazing and fantabulous this book is.

Me: Okay, I'll check it out. Plus it's cool since I was born in Alaska. The book is about Alaska right?

Friend: *laughs*

Me: O__o It's not about Alaska?

Friend: *still laughing*


The End.

True Story.
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.3k followers
July 25, 2021
i truly believe that this book dealt more damage to this generation's psyche than a year-plus of pandemic lockdown.

and that is a significant claim from me, because i am in emotional and mental shambles at this point.

the john green-i-est of all john green books.

part of a project i'm doing where i review books i read a long time ago and take it as an excuse to up the degree of john green hate content i've created
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
January 19, 2022
Looking for Alaska, John Green

Looking for Alaska is John Green's first novel, published in March 2005 by Dutton Juvenile.
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 (Francois 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.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز یازدهم ماه دسامبر سال2018میلادی

عنوان: در جست‌وجوی آلاسکا؛ نویسنده: جان گرین؛ مترجم: فاطمه جابیک؛ ویراسته ی سایه سار؛ تهران، میلکان؛ سال1397؛ در256ص؛ شابک9786008812531؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا برای نوجوانان - سده21م

داستان، بین نوجوانان، و در فضای مدرسه می‌گذرد، و از عشق‌های نوجوانانه، و نارواییهایی که در دبیرستان، و بین فرزندان خانواده‌ های طبقات مختلف برقرار است، سخن می‌گوید؛ «مایلز هالتر»، زندگی بی‌ماجرایی را می‌گذراند؛ او تصمیم می‌گیرد، به مدرسه‌ ی شبانه‌ روزی «کلور کریک»، در «فلوریدا» برود؛ تنها سرگرمی، و علاقه ی «مایلز»، خواندن آخرین جملات نویسنده‌ ها، و انسان‌های بزرگ است؛

جمله‌ ای از: «فرانسوا رابله»؛ در کتاب زندگینامه ی ایشان، توجه «مایلز» را، جلب کرده است: «من به جست‌وجوی شایدِ بزرگ می‌روم.» و این‌جاست که «مایلز»، تصمیم می‌گیرد در جستجوی «شایدِ بزرگ خود» باشد؛ در شبانه‌ روزی، او با دختری به نام «آلاسکا یانگ»، آشنا می‌شود؛ دختری زیبا، جذاب، باهوش، و بامزه، که ذهن پیچیده‌ ای دارد؛ دختری حیرت‌ انگیز، که وجودش به‌ خودی خود، نوعی رخداد است؛ او «مایلز» را، به دنیای خود می‌برد، و راه رسیدن به «شایدِ بزرگ» را، برایش هموار می‌کند، و البته چیزی را (دلش را) از او می‌گیرد؛ شخصیت‌های «در جست‌وجوی آلاسکا»، همگی نوجوانانی هستند که می‌خواهند از زندگی لذت ببرند، و از فرصت‌ها نهایت استفاده را بکنند

تاریخ بهنگام رساینی 24/10/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 27/10/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Tricia.
773 reviews40 followers
February 5, 2009
Did not finish.

This book was just too much--too much smoking, drinking, sex, and foul language. As a teenager, I hated it then and I don't want to rehash it now. I didn't care about any of the characters except Miles and I hated how he just went along with everything thrown in his path without a second thought--the smoking, drinking, porn, etc.
Profile Image for Darth J .
417 reviews1,252 followers
August 27, 2015

I had been putting off reviewing this book for a while. It also took me much longer to read than I thought it would. Having read An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns first, I can say that Green seems to repeat a lot of the same themes and personalities. This may have been his first book, but it was probably my least favorite of the ones I've already read. (And no, I will not read The Fault in Our Stars for reasons.)

The one thing I did like about this book and saved it from being a 1 star was the bufriedo, which is a fried burrito.

Profile Image for jessica.
2,534 reviews32.5k followers
July 11, 2019
i really wish i had read this when it first came out, because i think john greens writing has become stronger over time, so i didnt quite love this as much as his more recent stuff. but its still classic JG - need i say more?

i know JG is one of those polarising authors - you either hate him or you love him with no in between - but i find his characterisation of teens really fascinating. many claim his characters are pretentious. i mean, how many teenagers do you know literally searching for their great perhaps like pudge? probably none. but i think he does a great job at portraying teenagers how they perceive themselves. i definitely thought i was an intellectual and enlightened human at that age as well, so i get it.

overall, not my favourite book by him, but it still has that quintessential john green touch that i adore.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,562 followers
March 11, 2020
Here's me acknowledging the power of John Green. & hats off!

No, this one is not as bittersweet as "The Fault in Our Stars", but still, this is unputdownable supreme! Its the type of literature that gets one excited about reading, about reminiscing about adolescence and school. Because everyone has had a childhood, a first love, a stage of rebellion, this type of book strikes inner chords & you swiftly become infected with the virus of nostalgia.

To read one of his novels is to remember that you were once new & naive, too!
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,198 reviews40.7k followers
April 4, 2022
I know so many author fans’ favorite book is Fault in our stars! But my all time favorite work of John Green is absolutely this book!

You ask me why? I say: those characters, those brilliant dialogues, that freaking, mind blowing trage… okay I’m shutting my mouth…

This time I’m not gonna be the one who gives detailed spoilers about the story she fell so hard.
I’m also not gonna write pages and pages comments to express how much I loved this book! I did! I do! I will!

So I’m letting my favorite characters make the talk by quoting their remarkable dialogues! Here are they: ( oh, and one more thing: if you didn’t watch the marvelous Hulu adaptation of the book, give it a try: it definitely and adroitly reflected the soul of the book! )

“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive!”

“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.”

“When adults say, "Teenagers think they are invincible" with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don't know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.”

“When I look at my room, I see a girl who loves books.” ( I think this line is worth to get tattooed on my wrist)

“I may die young, but at least I'll die smart.” ( another tattoo line for me)

“And then something invisible snapped insider her, and that which had come together commenced to fall apart.”

“Sometimes you lose a battle. But mischief always wins the war.”

Yes, I think I’ll keep rereading this one! It’s already at my all time favorites list!
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
August 5, 2011
I belong to the generation that enjoyed St. Elmo’s Fire, a 1985 American coming-of-age film that starred the then showbiz newbies, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andre McCarthy and Demi Moore. That was shown here in the Philippines when I was in my first year of working after college and I was able to relate to many of its characters so I watched it twice or thrice. Oh well, I was with my girlfriend then and you know how dark and cold were the theatres during those years when they were not yet inside the malls.

So, now at 47, graying and with joints aching especially during cold mornings, I am just too old to appreciate a story about a bunch of young (college) kids who get into all troubles precisely because they are young. They drink booze, smoke, defy school rules, swear, have free sex and, in their attempt to cover their foolishness, do various kinds of franks towards the school authorities.

I definitely had my share of foolishness when I was at their age. I guess it had something to do with being young – the feeling when you want to assert myself, make a territorial mark between your generation and that of your parent’s or test the extent of their patience (and in so doing test whether they really care or not). Last Sunday, my daughter had an outburst inside the car saying that she did not have a friend at school. My daughter who was very active in school leading the Robotics Team, emceeing school programs, leading the daily prayer as one of the school DJs, being class president for at least two years and playing various kinds of sports during annual intramurals. She said that she felt alone (she is an only child) and she oftentimes ate lunch alone. My wife and I felt sad about her revelations. We thought that she was doing fine as whenever we were in her school, we oftentimes heard many of her fellow students greeting her “hi.” We even joked that she should be the most popular student in school. This was something that I and my wife did not experience when we were in high school as we were low-profile people then and even now in our respective life circles. We advised her to just make the most of what can still be done for the rest of the senior year - probably concentrate with a few friends instead of reaching out to all – as it is just 8 months before graduation. In college, she will probably have a totally new set of friends so she can forge new ties and hope those will be stronger and more lasting. Anyway, friends come and go. Those classmates-friends we had in college tend to stick with us after our school years as we normally land in the same field or industry. Moreover, in the end what really matter are the learnings from each friend we encounter in our lives. Learnings that help us to become better persons as we take our journey in this thing called life.

That’s why I was able to relate to this novel. I could imagine the disappointment Miles “Pudge” Halter felt when nobody but two attended his goodbye party for him. That’s why I could imagine the anxiety he felt facing his own “Great Perhaps” when he made his first step towards the boarding school, Culver Creek. That’s why I felt the pain and suprise when he was thrown off the creek just because he was sharing his room with Chip “The Colonel” Martin. That’s why I understood when Pudge and Chip cried with guilt and sadness with longing and fondness when Alaska Young disappeared from their lives.

This is a novel about being young and what goes with it – emotionally vulnerable, trying to fit in, trying to find one’s place under the sun, trying to face the whole world armed with what little knowledge and strength gained in the first one or two decades of stay on this treacherous yet still beautiful earth.

John Green shows us the generation of today. His characters may not be totally different from the St. Elmo’s buddies I used to relate with. However, this is their time. We had ours. So, let’s step down and give them the stage but keep ourselves at bay to coach if they ask us to. Otherwise, let’s leave them and let them strengthen their wings for them to fly away and fulfill the hearts’ wishes.

Thanks to Dra. Ranee for lending to me her copy of this book!
Profile Image for Lotte.
546 reviews1,106 followers
July 19, 2016
I first read this book in 2008 when I was 14 and it turned out to be the book that sparked my love for literature.
I've always loved reading, but before that I only read for the sake of entertainment. Looking for Alaska was the first book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading, but that simultaneously and more importantly, made me think about greater issues in life for a long time after I had finished reading.
Now that I'm 21, I understand that while this remains to be a highly philosophical book, it's not the "deepest" and most perfect book ever. However, it still means the world to me and I'll always be thankful for John Green for writing it.
Profile Image for Madeline.
775 reviews47k followers
October 29, 2016
One day I’m going to put together an anthology of John Green’s three novels, and it will be titled “Hot Bipolar Girls and the Boys Who Worship Them.”

This is the third John Green book I’ve read so far, and the patterns are starting to appear. (Less so with An Abundance of Katherines, I must admit, but most of the elements are still there so I’m counting it) In every book (An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska) our hero is a slightly awkward but likable young man who has some quirky obsession and quirky friends. He meets a girl, who is your typical Manic Pixie Dream Girl, except on crack. Boy obsesses over Girl, Girl does not give much of a damn. Girl is impulsive and difficult to understand and shows many signs of being mentally unbalanced, but Boy does not care because she is hot. Story continues in this vein for a while, and then Girl does something that causes all hell to break loose, goes totally off the rails, and Boy is left to pick up the pieces and continue worshipping Girl, although not quite in the same way he did before.

John Green certainly has a thing for the Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype, and the good news is he’s starting to ease up on it – the girls get steadily less crazy and more likable as the books get newer, and since I read the books in the opposite order they were written, it was interesting to watch the escalation. Katherine I is mostly normal, although still a constant source of mystery and worship. Margot Roth Speigleman is Alaska Young on medication. And Alaska Young is...well. I’ve been trying to think of some mythical figure I can compare her to (there’ve got to be a million myths about beautiful women who bring destruction, right?) and the best I can come up with is actually from Peter Pan. Remember the mermaids? They’re beautiful and fascinating and mysterious, and they draw you in with their singing. But the second you get close to them, they grab you and drag you under the water and drown you. Alaska Young is a mermaid. She’s impulsive and fun and sexy and confident, and then as soon as anyone starts feeling comfortable with her, suddenly she becomes sullen or furious or cruel. Miles, the Awkward But Likeable Quirky Boy, doesn’t even try to resist her. He falls, hard, for Alaska and bravely endures her ups and downs, and he suffers for it along with everyone else who was foolish enough to fall in love with her. She stubbornly remains a mystery throughout the book, refusing to explain her actions or moods, and this continues to the moment when she drives off campus, drunk and raging, and ends up driving her car straight into a police car (the siren was on, the lights flashing) that was parked on the highway at an accident site. She is killed instantly, and even after her death Miles and his friends continue to be consumed by her.

The book is divided into two parts – before Alaska’s death, and after. Based on the reviews I’ve read, everyone seems to like the Before better, but I disagree. I like the After, mostly because I couldn’t stand Alaska, but also because I think the writing gets better in the After part. The thing I love about John Green (and the reason this gets five stars, despite my griping) is the way he writes about emotions. That sounds silly, but it’s true – he understands fear and pain and grief better than almost any author I’ve ever read, and it’s always heartbreakingly beautiful when he writes about them. In my review of Paper Towns I quoted a brilliant paragraph he wrote about fear, and in Looking for Alaska it’s grief:

“I am staring at the ground beneath me. I cannot stop thinking that she is dead, and I cannot stop thinking that she cannot possibly be dead. People do not just die. I can’t catch my breath. I feel afraid, like someone has told me they’re going to kick my ass after school and now it’s sixth period and I know full well what’s coming. It is so cold today – literally freezing – and I imagine running to the creek and diving in headfirst, the creek so shallow that my hands scrape against the rocks, and my body slides into the cold water, the shock of the cold giving way to numbness, and I would stay there...”

That’s the stuff I love about this book – the aftermath of the destruction Alaska wreaks. In all the Before sections, it just felt like the characters were stalling for time, waiting for that inevitable disaster to happen. Once it does, I suddenly became completely invested in the book and decided that I needed to give it five stars.

“...one thing I learned from science classes is that energy is never created and never destroyed. And if Alaska took her own life, that is the hope I wish I could have given her. Forgetting her mother, forgetting her friends and herself – those are awful things, but she did not need to fold into herself and self-destruct. Those awful things are survivable, because we are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be. When adults say ‘Teenagers think they are invincible’ with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We thinks that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.”

Also, for the record: I think she did it on purpose. I don’t think she left campus planning to kill herself, but she saw the police car and decided, on the spur of the moment, to drive straight at it. I think she meant to do it.

UPDATE: Whilst dicking around on tumblr, I found a snippet of a poem by Warsan Shire and I had to post it at the end of this review, because I think it perfectly expresses what Alaska would say if she were allowed to tell this story in her own words, and it also illustrates what John Green fails to understand about his Manic Pixie Dream Girl obsession:

"You want me to be a tragic backdrop so that you can appear to be illuminated, so that people can say ‘Wow, isn’t he so terribly brave to love a girl who is so obviously sad?’ You think I’ll be the dark sky so you can be the star? I’ll swallow you whole."
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kristalia .
383 reviews611 followers
December 5, 2018
Final rating: 4.5/5 stars

"Teenagers think they are invincible" with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don't know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are."

Loved it! I couldn't put it down - just like i expected. John Green is seriously talented, and even though i don't like this book as much as i love his "The Fault in Our Stars", it was still wonderful book.

I have to admit that i was on verge of crying on almost every page from the "After" part. And then, in the end, i did cry a little. Let out a tear or two... But, it was beautiful ending, and i loved it :)


"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 a hurricane."

We follow a group of people from the perspective of Miles and those people are Colonel(aka,real name Chipper),Takumi,Alaska and Lara. I liked Miles a lot, he was cool, interesting and nice...Colonel, on the other hand, was fantastic character, crazy, with strong personality... Takumi was great too, even though i wished there was more of him; Lara was here and there, likeable and cute girl and in the end we have Alaska... Alaska is a different story... even though she was fun to read about, i still didn't feel anything toward hure. Sure, she may be crazy and she might be awesomely defensive of womankind, but overall i didn't feel much about her. But, she was still loveable.

“Sometimes I don't get you,' I said.
She didn't even glance at me. She just smiled toward the television and said, 'You never get me. That's the whole point.”

They were fun, they were crazy, they did some extremely crazy things and in the end, i will miss reading about them (not like i won't read it again).

“What the hell is that?" I laughed.
"It's my fox hat."
"Your fox hat?"
"Yeah, Pudge. My fox hat."
"Why are you wearing your fox hat?" I asked.
"Because no one can catch the motherfucking fox.”


Some people say that the best years of our lives are when we are young, when we are teens, when we are in college... when we first fall in love, when we go on our first day...When we are with friends... But some stories finish before we even blink.


● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●


Paper Towns
Looking for Alaska
The Fault in Our Stars

This review can be found on my blog: infinity-of-time.blogspot.com also known as...

Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.2k followers
October 31, 2019
Well, I finished this book this morning, and let me just say it was excellent.
Everyone says it because it's true. This is a pure and thought-provoking book.

This review cannot be without spoilers, so if you haven't read this book or don't want to be spoiled, don't continue. Basically, just read this book.

The book follows Miles, a slightly disconnected teenager, who has just moved to a boarding school. He befriends his roommate and his roommate's friends. One of these friends is Alaska, and he quickly falls in love with her. And then, she dies.

I can honestly say I did not see this coming. The truth is, I have not read any books that deal with death and the way that others respond to it.

The characters were wonderful. Miles was usually intelligent and very relatable. Pudge, his roommate, sounded like a friend I would want to have. He was super smart and had lots of fortitude. Takumi, in the end, was a beautiful character and I really wanted to know more about him. Lara was also great. I've known some exchange students, and she really portrayed one well. You can tell that exchange students are intelligent, but with their accents and simply worded sentences they seem adorable and lovely as well. Finally, Alaska. She was simply beautiful. In the trashiest way. She was one of the most mysterious characters I have ever read about. Near the end of the book, I realized we barely know anything about her. And yet I mourned her loss alongside with Miles.

I think that this is the most "deep" YA novel I have ever read. It was wonderfully written, and John Green's use of last words was intriguing and interesting. The way that the book was split, with "before" and "after" really showed what a big event Alaska's death was.

I'm really glad that John Green also put some comedy into this book through all of the pranks though, because otherwise it would have been extremely depressing. I'm also glad we never found out if it was suicide or an accident. It seemed right not to know.

It is actually difficult to explain the impact this book had on me. It really made me think about others and the power of death and life.

I recommend this book to everyone.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Emma.
417 reviews
April 29, 2013
I was recommended this by a good friend and I was really looking forward to it. I love the vlogbrothers videos and the first chapter really made me want to read it and find out more but it didn't live up to the expectation that the first few chapters set up.

My main problem with the book was the characters. It wasn't even that they were underdeveloped. Alaska and Miles just pissed me off. I let some of it slide by because I understand certain parts were intentional but Miles was just so whiny. I couldn't handle it.

By the time I got to the "After" section of the book I was going through the motions; counting pages, skipping whole paragraphs that seemed unimportant and screaming internally at my book. The took so long to figure out the great mystery of the incident that is didn't seem plausible for a group of teenagers who are supposed to be smart.

I have since read another John Green book and I truly loved it. His writing is excellent and it is so refreshing to see a YA novel with a male voice. I also rather liked that they actually did homework and went to classes. So, please, go and but another of his books and truly enjoy the author that is John Green.
Profile Image for ily .
455 reviews629 followers
July 1, 2015
"white girl who's not like the other girls, finds the boy of her dreams.. a white boy who's not like the other boys!" This perfectly sums up every John Green book. All his characters are socially awkward, know the names of foreign poets and come up with phrases like "My thoughts are stars I cannot put into constellations" randomly. It is so pretentious. John Green is one of the most overrated authors in YA.
Profile Image for Kristopher Jansma.
Author 8 books305 followers
April 26, 2008
I've been getting in touch with my inner Young Adult this week, in preparation for yet another final rewrite on my own YA book. This has, for the most part, amounted to listening to Death Cab for Cutie and reading Looking for Alaska - a book that I have been actively avoiding. The story of this is long and somewhat personal, so feel free to skip this part if you just want to know if the book is good.

I first heard of Looking for Alaska in my thesis workshop, when a girl very snidely told me I'd have to take out part of my own book because it sounded very similar to this book she'd heard about on NPR, which had not even come yet out at that point. Stubbornly I refused to cut the section (and even read it at my thesis reading) and when Alaska finally did come out, I flipped through just enough of it to decide my book was way better and then abandoned it. Sadly, Alaska has dogged me ever since. Agents and editors alike have told me that my book is too similar to it - which is apparently not a good thing - despite Alaska having won a number of awards and such. Anyway, sour grapes aside, I decided that if the comparisons are inevitable, I might as well know what I'm being held up against.

So what do the young adults of this world really want? Sex, apparently. And a stiff drink or twelve.

Looking for Alaska is about normal, skinny Miles Halter, quickly nicknamed Pudge, who gets into Culver Creek Boarding School and leaves in search of something more interesting. His quirky personality trait is that he memorizes the famous last words of various historical figures - a party trick that he uses to successfully get in with his roommate, who goes by "the Colonel" and the smoky little sexpot down the hall, Alaska Young. Wait, you might be saying, what's with all these funny nicknames? Well, Alaska turns out to be nearly the only name in the book that isn't a nickname - though we do find out that her parents decided to let her name herself at the age of 5. Even the Dean is referred to as The Eagle by the Culver Creekians. Try as I might I can't recall a lot of excessive nicknaming in my youth. I suppose there were a few guys I knew who pretty much went by their last names, when there were too many Adams or Brians in the bunch. I had one friend who referred to himself as the Emperor... but we didn't really call him that on a daily basis. Anyway, I digress.

The story is split into two parts - Before & After - and I won't give away the event that divides the two. All I will say is that the structure and the subject matter reminded me immensely of The Secret History by Donna Tartt (which incidentally was my main inspiration as well...) But just as I felt that the second half of History sags, Alaska does too. It's hard to talk about why without spoiling the twist, so I'll focus my energy on the Before section, which will give you the gist.

As I said earlier, Pudge loves Famous Last Words, (this is actually the facet that the snarky workshop girl told me was too close to my own book) and I expected to hate this quirk - but in fact it grew on me. The whole book grew on me - the romantic tension between him and Alaska is perfect, and there are an awful lot of incredibly poignant moments as Pudge grows accustomed to the school and it's strange rules and rhythms. Ultimately the book becomes a youthful meditation on life and death, which made me realize part of the joy of YA writing - just as in the Death Cab songs, the emotions can be laid much barer than in more serious literary works where things always seem to have to stay sort of ambiguous and sophisticated. Teenagers are supposed to be a little melodramatic, and that's sort of the joy of it. Badly done, you get Gossip Girl style antics, a lot of who-cheated-on-whom-with-whomever-else. But rightly done, you get something like the better parts of Looking for Alaska.

So what's leftover? A lot of ridiculous stuff. The Colonel and Alaska are more or less perpetually drunk (she buries wine bottles in the woods) and there's a good deal of cigarette smoking going on as well - for which they are occasionally punished. Fellatio is simulated on a tube of toothpaste (then performed in real life). Alaska's big hunky boyfriend from another school comes by frequently and everyone talks racily about how much sex they seem to have and just how much Alaska loves it. Worse than anything, when the characters are good and drunk (which is often) they will break out in absurd, spontaneous, freestyle rapping. In between all the genuine, poignant moments of the book, are a million moments where they're all so jaded and edgy and wacky you almost wish you could reach in and smack all their heads together. Maybe that's just me.

A friend of mine who actually went to boarding school observed to me the other day that none of the boarding school books she's ever read (including Alaska, which she did not like) give any realistic idea of the sheer volume of WORK that needs to be done. There's essentially no time leftover to get up to any trouble, she said. At any rate, Culver seems to be a somewhat less romanticised boarding school than the Exeters and Andovers of the world. It's in Alabama for one thing. Most of the rich kids head home on the weekends (leaving only our protagonists to get up to trouble). There's very little sense that any of them feel pressure to do well or accomplish anything extraordinary in life. The overriding question of the book is how one can escape the constant sufferings of life - not suffering like having to work hard or being humiliated or anything - think more like a teenager - it is the suffering of unrequited love, parents that just don't get it, the fear of getting expelled for one's various illicit pleasures, the embarrassment of puking on a girl... etc. Ultimately the book hinges on a more deeply serious moment - the sort that makes this philosophical question really important for them, and puts their previous, childish problems in perspective. However, as I said earlier, this moment comes halfway through, making the final half of the book one very tedious denouement.

Ultimately, the good in this book will stick in my mind far more than the bad. The character's absurdities and the shaky structure are both quickly forgotten upon putting the book down. I'm genuinely glad that I read it, and not only because now I have a better idea of what to avoid with my own book. Alaska is a great character, when she's not a little bit over the top. And maybe that's just what being a teenager is all about.

Profile Image for emi.
73 reviews59 followers
March 17, 2018
The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.

John Green has established himself a very large fan base of readers, who are very fond of his work and writing.

Unfortunately, after reading a lot of his work, I can't say that I belong to that fanbase. Neither his characters nor writing nor plot make me swoon.

Alright, that was a very formal way of saying that his books are not for me.

Now, let's cut to the chase, shall we?

Everybody loves to read a good, ol' raging review about a controversial book. But I'll try to keep this one civil.

I can understand why Green's books are so popular, even though I don't personally find them anything spectacular.

First of all, I noticed a trend in some of his stories.

The leading main character is almost always bland and boring, take for example, Paper Towns or this book, Looking for Alaska. Now, I'm not being a bully here and saying that Green is the only one who follows this trope - but, it's just a little observation of mine. You don't have to agree with me.

Following that observation, have you realized that similarly in a few cases, the female is always portrayed as this 'mysterious, untouchable' goddess of some sort?

The normal, grey-little-piece-of-paper bloke and the otherworldly queen. I get that when people, especially teenagers, fall in love, they idealize their crush, looking past all their imperfections ... but, come on. This trope is overwhelmingly popular in YA.

Okay, now think about this.

Imagine a bucket full of paper cards with plot twists, character traits, character interests, events, etc. Now, the way I see it, most of Green's books feel like these little cards have been pulled out at random, and the story was based upon them. It's ridiculous, I know. But, that's just how I feel, okay?

Now, let's get to the actual book. Looking for Alaska.

If I could describe this book in a few random words, it would be: excessive teenage smoking, teenage rebellion, drinking, unlikeable characters.

Apart from Chip. I liked Chip. You rock, Chip.

I highly appreciate that Green was trying to touch on some important matters. But, I don't think this book did them justice.

Let's start.


This book was entertaining to read, in the way that it's wasn't boring, even though it pretty much had no plot. I won't lie. You fly through it. I can't say that I didn't necessarily enjoy reading it - it was chaotic, and crazy and full of that 'teenage rebellion' jazz.


I felt very little towards any of the characters, especially Alaska. The amount of times her body was described is literally insane - like, Miles, get a grip, stop being fickle. I understand that he thought her personality was brilliant too and at that age, teenage hormones go on a raging rampage, but, enough is enough. Even towards the end, I couldn't bring myself to feel any sympathy for either of them. At one point, sure, I felt a little bleak, but no tears were shed.


The writing wasn't bad. It was very simple and bland, and full of vulgar language, but it wasn't something terrible. As usual, it had that 'philosophical' undertone - when young people try to sound all wise - which drives me crazy. I'm not saying that teenagers are stupid, because as a teenager myself, I think that is the most inaccurate, insulting accusation one can make. But, there's a huge disparity between wisdom and intelligence.

Okay, now, I'd like to touch on another matter.


I'm not going to hide it. Teenagers smoke, and that's something that was and most likely always will be part of our society. That's okay. That's life. Lots of my friends smoke, and whilst it's not something that I want to take part in, as an athlete (saying athlete, I don't mean I'm a professional, or anything), I under where its popularity comes from. Really, I do.


The characters in this book smoke. A lot.

That's fine, because it makes the book seem realistic. Damn it, I'm fifteen and I know people my age and younger who smoke. And, truthfully, that's not something society can magically eradicate.

But, the way it was depicted in the book made me mad.

Not whilst reading it.

But looking back at it now... it was very problematic, in my personal opinion. If you have the opportunity to write a book aimed towards a younger audience, wouldn't you want to make a positive impact?

Teach them something.

But, in this book, smoking was deemed (in my opinion) 'cool' and, honestly, that was something that infuriated me.

The characters smoked so much, and nothing happened to them.

They were healthy, and didn't cough at all. No effects, whatsoever. Literally, as though smoking was a chill, harmless activity - not full of nicotine and tobacco.

Why? WHY?

Smoking is life threatening. Why glorify it in a book?

This whole theme should have been handled differently, in my opinion.

It should have pushed people away from smoking.

Writers can create magic through words. As the saying goes, words have the power to change minds. John Green has a huge amount of fans, spread all around the world, and he obviously must have a talent in writing. If you happen to possess two of these things, why not use them to your advantage?Through a beautiful paragraph, people could feel at least feel some distaste towards smoking. It just should have had a better moral; a better message towards readers. A more constructive message, in my opinion. I understand that these teenagers want to experiment, want to try new things, but come on, there's boundaries that shouldn't be crossed. And, when an author touches upon life threatening, addictive substances, I think it would be only fair if he portrayed the action, as dangerous. NOT AS A LEISURELY, FUN ACTIVITY, RESERVED ONLY FOR THE BEST OF THE BEST. Man...

Overall, I didn't enjoy this book. Sadly, it just wasn't one for me. How did you find it?
Displaying 1 - 30 of 71,050 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.