Wow, just wow!
I’ve read this book many times over the years and never once have I found myself bored or over it. It is always equally as exciting, funny, and emotionally shocking as the first time I read it.
John Green’s break out novel is the perfect high school coming of age story, which I believe should be read by every teen who feels like they are struggling to fit in.
The story follows a completely relatable protagonist, Miles ‘Pudge’ Halter as he changes schools in his search for “the great perhaps.” The relatively introverted character moves to Culver Creek. Here he meets Chip ‘The Colonel’ Martin, his smart, yet trouble seeking room mate. It is the Colonel who introduces Miles to the title character, Alaska Young. Miles becomes immediately infatuated with Alaska. She is everything he wishes he was, fearless, outspoken, and confident. He spends the majority of the book pinning after her as she and The Colonel bring him out of his shell.
What Green does really well is dive into relatable mannerisms and themes that are common in growing up. Like most teenagers, Miles is unsure of who he is and who he wants to be and you see his character learn and grow into almost a different, evolved person through the book.
Now I do have to warn you that the book does deal with some explicit content in terms of language and sexual references, but that is what makes it so relatable. High school isn’t this pure pristine clean place. It is a place that teaches you more outside the classroom than in. It is where you experience physical, mental, and emotional changes and Green deals with them all perfectly. He keeps the story as true to the real high school world as possible. Though he doesn’t promote sex, drugs and violence he references them and blends them into the story as well as possible, keeping Miles’ high school experience as accurate as possible in terms of the real world.
Green is not afraid to go into the darker side of the high school experience as he deals with loyalty and bullying among teens. He has his characters deal with the full range of emotions, including the ‘deadly sins’ really showcasing how volatile the emotional state of a teenager can really be, adding to the brilliance of this novel.
I won’t go into specific details of the book as it is something that you need to read for yourself, but there is never a dull moment. Seemingly just to play with the readers emotions who root for Miles and Alaska, Green throws in a heart-wrenching twist that really forces all the characters to deal with some of the real aspects of the world that school often shelters kids from.
It is very rare that I’ll rate a book 10/10, but Looking for Alaska deserves it. If it weren’t for its explicit references and coarse language it would probably be a recommended read in every high school. At its core it is an entertaining instructional guide on how to not just survive growing up, but learn and enjoy how to be a teenager making it a must read!
Looking for Alaska – TV Series
The Stan adaptation is one of those few times where a book is correctly brought to life on the screen, though there are some deviations from the plot the series stays true to the novel it is based on (most likely because the author had a helping hand in its production.) It is just as entertaining and instructional as the book, and it is fantastic to see the characters that you fall in love with come to life.