Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Looking for Alaska

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
ISBN: 9780142402511

Miles Halter doesn’t have a lot of friends. Strike that. Miles Halter has no friends. Bored by the loneliness and monotony of public school life, Miles convinces his parents that he’d like to leave Florida and follow in his father’s footsteps and start his junior year of high school at a boarding school in Alabama. What Miles really seeks is not just friendship, but the Great Perhaps. Adventure. Experience. Life.
Instantly branded with the ironic nickname Pudge, Miles begins the new school year with a new roommate Chip, a.k.a. The Colonel, and a new crush, the wildly unpredictable Alaska Young. Alaska, The Colonel’s best friend, lives down the hall and is unlike anyone Pudge has ever known: a rollercoaster of highs and lows, the ultimate prankster, and a mystery even to those who know her best. She’s intelligent and reckless and absolutely beautiful. Perhaps the best description of Alaska is just that she smells “like cigarettes and vanilla”—a curious blend of adulthood and innocence, adolescent rebellion and quiet calmness.
John Green’s Looking for Alaska is divided neatly into two parts: a countdown of Before and the time After. In the time Before, Pudge learns about smoking, drinking, sex, pranks, and friendship. The mystery of the first half lies in what exactly Pudge is counting down to. Before a wonderful prank? Before smoking and drinking finally get one of them kicked out of school? Or before something much more serious? In the aftermath of the event, Pudge finds himself questioning what he’s learned from the Colonel and Alaska.
Told entirely from Pudge’s point of view, Looking for Alaska is a young man’s search for something more. Many questions are asked and not all are answered. While some readers may find this frustrating, it adds depth to the book. Not every question in life has an answer. Not everything is tied up in a neat little bow. And sometimes the people who affect the courses of our lives the most are those we knew the least.

--Kyla Paterno

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