Looking For Alaska by John Green

lookingforalaska“If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”

Miles Halter’s whole life has been one big non-event, until he meets Alaska Young.

Gorgeous, clever and undoubtedly screwed up, Alaska draws Miles into her reckless world and irrevocably steals his heart. For Miles, nothing can ever be the same again.

First published: 2005

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now you might have read my review of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. You might also have noticed that I was completely and utterly in awe of it, and that I have listed the novel among my favourite books on my About Me page.

It’s pretty safe to say I had high expectations of Looking For Alaska.

Looking For Alaska is John’s debut novel, published in 2005. Like I said, I had high expectations, but I didn’t expect it to be better (or even as amazing) as TFiOS. I was right about that, but nevertheless this novel still blew my mind. However, where TFiOS had me completely hooked from the start, Looking For Alaska didn’t make me feel that same magical feeling I had when first starting to read TFiOS.

The novel is about Miles Halter, who leaves his family behind in Florida to attend boarding school in Alabama. He is bored with his life in Florida, a life without any real friends. The one thing he is passionate about is famous people’s last words — and he has a lot of them memorised. Once he starts school at Culver Creek his life quickly changes, though, when he meets his new room mate Chip “The Colonel” Martin, and, most importantly, Alaska Young…

Looking For Alaska has two parts, a part named “Before”, and one named “After”. While reading “Before” you have no idea what this is referring to, and it keeps you wondering because the first chapter is named “One Hundred and Thirty-Six Days Before” and you just keep getting closer and closer. Very clever way to keep people on the edge of their seat while reading!

I loved the entire novel, but the mind blowing part started “After”. What I like about John Green’s novels is how he makes his characters so philosophical — they think about all kinds of stuff. Yes, they’re teenagers and they think about teenager-y stuff, but there’s more to them than that:

What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.

You’re able to grasp the concept (everyone knows what instant rice is) and it’s witty, but at the same time very profound as well. I love that. John’s way of writing and the manner in which he casually throws in philosophical questions baffle me.

While reading I thought “it’s good, but not as amazing as TFiOS”, but then, about 150 pages in, he does it again; he manages to amaze me in ways novels rarely do. John Green is a master storyteller, and certainly one of my biggest inspirations at the moment.

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17 thoughts on “Looking For Alaska by John Green

  1. I haven’t read either, but have been reading a lot about The Fault in Our Stars and it seems to be overwhelmingly positive. Hasn’t it just been made into a movie? Damn, I wish it was in the 746!

    1. The movie comes out in June! In the US, that is, no idea when it comes out here. I hope pretty soon after that because I can’t wait to see it.
      Ooohh, too bad it isn’t in the 746! Can’t you make an exception, or something? Switch one of the Palahniuk novels you don’t feel like reading anymore for The Fault in Our Stars? 😉

  2. I’ve read all of John Green’s books in the past two months (working part-time has it’s advantages…so much time to read!). While I enjoyed them all, especially the philosophical musings, some of the books seemed a little *too* similar. Like “Looking for Alaska” and “Paper Towns.”

  3. I had the opposite experience. I read Looking for Alaska first, and fell in love with Green through that book around the time it was published. Then I read Paper Towns, then Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and Let It Snow. So by the time I got to TFioS, I just didn’t love it as much as the others. I’m about to give TFioS a second read before the movie, so we’ll see if it holds up better on the second reading. But for now, Alaska holds a very special place in my heart!

    1. I think that Looking For Alaska would’ve had a whole different effect on me, too, if I had read that one first and hadn’t been familiar with John’s way of writing. I was still blown away by it, but it just didn’t have the impact TFioS had. However, I don’t think I would’ve loved TFioS less if I had read it later than Alaska. I just think I would’ve loved Alaska more! They’re both special to me, though, and I can’t wait to read An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I read Let it Snow in December, and I’m pretty sure that’ll be my go to Christmas read for a long time!

  4. I’m reading this right now! I wanted to read Green’s debut novel before reading The Fault in Our Stars. I’m not quite half way through yet, I’m still in the “before” section but I cannot wait to see what happens next!

      1. I loved it! I’ve just finished The Fault in our Stars too and I can now see why everyone absolutely loves John Green. I managed to blub and laugh my way through both! Can’t wait to start reading Paper Towns next! 🙂

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