Review: Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska
By John Green
(Speak, Paperback, 9780142402511, 2006, 256pp.)

The Short of It:

Highly praised, yet failed to deliver in the end.

The Rest of It:

*No Spoilers*

I recently reviewed Green’s latest book, and loved it, so when I saw this one at the library, I immediately snatched it up.

Miles moves from Florida to Alabama to attend Culver Creek Preparatory School. There, he meets his roommate “The Colonel” also known as Chip Martin. Miles wasn’t all that popular at his previous school, in fact…no one really knew he existed so when Chip shows an interest in him, he eases into the friendship knowing that it could disintegrate at any moment. After their brief introduction and receiving the nickname of Pudge (even though Miles is skinny as a rail), Miles is introduced to Alaska Young.

Alaska is witty and beautiful and different from the girls back home but she is also taken. Her college boyfriend is mentioned numerous times but is never seen. This mysterious air is what attracts Miles to her, but it’s also what frustrates him most. Especially when she goes missing and he and Chip are left to figure out what happened.

The story is broken up into two parts, before and after with before being the events leading up to her disappearance, and after, the events that followed it. As a reader, I knew right away that something was going to happen, but I had no idea what. With each chapter breaking it down even further (2 months before, 28 days after, etc), which worked to a degree as I certainly felt the tension build, the end result was not what I had hoped for. The ending left a lot of questions unanswered and to be honest with you, this pissed me off. The structure begs for resolution. You cannot lead a reader down the before/after path and not give them something in return!

My reaction to the ending, affected my overall enjoyment of the book itself. Putting the ending aside, I will say that I enjoyed the dialogue between the characters and the development of Miles over time. He is a likable character and his interactions with the other characters were often entertaining if not, enjoyable. Scores of readers have praised the book for its emotional punch so perhaps its magic was lost on me. After all, I am not a young teen by any stretch of the imagination and that is what this book is geared towards even with its numerous mentions of alcohol and sex.

Source: Borrowed
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20 Responses

  1. I have this book in the house, waiting for my John Green binge that I intend to participate in at some point. My daughter picked it up and read it, then afterwards told me it was probably inappropriate for her to read (oh great, that’s good to hear), and she was not sure how she felt about it. She kind of wandered around in a malaise afterwards. But so many have loved it. So I’ll probably have to read it, at least now I’m forewarned.

  2. I still want to read it…it still sounds good and I am not as exacting as you are so. Probably I won’t even notice the flaws…lol…I will say…what?

    Plus I know I have it!

    • I think even you and your “not quite as exacting” self would feel cheated at the end. Now I WANT you to read it to see if I’m right. LOL.

  3. Sounds like a book that could have been better if the ending had been appropriate.

    • Yeah, it was the build-up. A lot of build-up and then poof… nothing. Of course, several readers will disagree with that saying that the ending was all that and more, but even if I were a teen, I don’t think the ending would work for me.

  4. Ugh! A bad ending can ruin a good book. Sorry the ending didn’t work for you.

  5. Well that’s disappointing. After all that lead up I’d expect it to really be a big thing too. The thing with YA books for me is that some are really good to me, but then others really do seem like something I would have enjoyed more as an actual teen.

  6. Gotta love a kid who tells it like it is :) I’m hearing lots about John Green and after my kids’ AP English teacher gave his last book her approval, I decided the other day that we’ll give him a try…guess we won’t start with this one :/

  7. After I read The Fault in Our Stars I read An Abundance of Catherines and it was very good although not the level of TFIOS. But I had already heard hints about LFA so I decided to skip it for now. Still may read it sometime though because I love him so much!

  8. Thank you!! This book didn’t do it for me either and I always wondered what was wrong with me. I’m glad to hear that you liked The Fault Is In Our Stars because I was wondering if I’d actually like it after not liking this one. This tells me to proceed without fear!

  9. Bridge to nowhere, totally. But if John Green had to mess up before he could get it right in Fault in Our Stars, I forgive him.

  10. This was “the book” that made me fall in love with John’s writing. Not only that, but my son read it too and we spent a lot of time talking about it and then moving on the Abundance of Katherines.

  11. This was my first John Green book. I think the first book tends to be more powerful, when reading Green, and then the similarities kind of make subsequent books lose a bit of their punch.

  12. I’ve read so many reviews of this one that I already know a bit about what happens. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages (I even own a signed copy), I just haven’t been in the right mood. It was refreshing to see a different take on the book other than gushing.

  13. […] Sadie Jones 33. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson 34. Words Get In the Way by Nan Rossiter 35. Looking for Alaska by John Green 36. Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty 37. Jaws by Peter Benchley 38. Wild by […]

  14. I feel the same way about the ending! Loved th beginning, then got to a point with Alaska and then end fizzled. :( they cant all be The fault in our stars. Oh well

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