Here’s the description from GoodReads:
Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, 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, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
After. Nothing is ever the same.
I’ve wanted to read something by John Green for a while and chose an option that sounded a little less like it was going to make me cry at 2am than some of his other books.
Unfortunately this review does contain spoilers, it’s impossible for me to talk about this book and not spoil it, so if you don’t want to be spoiled I suggest you stop reading now.
I happened across this book by accident to be completely honest. I went into WH Smiths with every intention of picking up Paper Towns and it was only when I got home that I realised I’d picked up this book. I don’t know how I did it either.
I was really drawn into the book by the way chapters were marked in this book. Instead of it being ‘Chapter 1’ or ‘Chapter 2’ it was marked as ‘x days before’ and counted down to the main event in the book, which pulled me in and made me want to know what we were counting down to.
Unfortunately what he was counting down to was the death of Alaska, a girl that our main character Pudge seems to have fallen in love with despite all of her flaws.
After that point chapters begin being marked by counting days after her death as Pudge and his friends try to work out what happened to Alaska: was it a tragic accident or did she commit suicide and why was she in such a distressed state?
I don’t know how John Green did it but he made me feel for the characters without me even realising it. Before Alaska’s death I didn’t feel particularly attached to her but after she died, I felt sad that she’d died and found myself desperate to know what had happened also. It’s like he made the characters disarm me and slowly sneak their way into my feelings.
The characters were extremely well developed and were exactly the way I remember teenage boys and girls being. Though I have never been a teenage boy, I have been a teenage girl and I can definitely relate to this book.
It did contain swearing and some kinda sex scenes but if anything it would probably be unrealistic for a book about teenagers to not contain swearing or something sexual, so I didn’t feel that detracted from the book or was unnecessary.
At points the characters were a little pretentious, but weren’t we all at that age? I went to a Private School, though I wasn’t a boarding student, so this book really bought back some memories for me and made me think about my own time at school.
What I enjoyed most about this book is how much it made me think. It tackled the topic of death and what happens after we die, which kept me pondering Looking For Alaska in the days after I’d finished the book.
After finishing the book I did a bit of research on Looking For Alaska and discovered that it is partly based on true facts. John Green did go to a boarding school in Alabama and there was a student there who died under similar circumstances as Alaska did, which I think is why this book is so well written.
All in all, I loved Looking For Alaska. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did but it’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read, not just this year but ever.
If you enjoy contemporary young adult novels and / or want to try something by John Green, I really think this is a good place to start.