Looking for Alaska by John Green

80%

43 Critic Reviews

The Alaska of the title is a maddening, fascinating, vivid girl seen through the eyes of Pudge...What sings and soars in this gorgeously told tale is Green’s mastery of language and the sweet, rough edges of Pudge’s voice. Girls will cry and boys will find love, lust, loss and longing in Alaska’s vanilla-and-cigarettes scent.
-Kirkus

Synopsis



Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award An ALA Best Book for Young Adults An ALA Quick Pick A Los Angeles Times 2005 Book Prize Finalist A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age A 2005 Booklist Editor’s Choice A 2005 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy 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. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . . After. Nothing is ever the same.

 

About John Green

See more books from this Author
John Green attended a boarding school not unlike Alaska’s Culver Creek. After graduating from college in 2000, he worked as a chaplain at a children’s hospital. John’s experiences with patients and their families during intense crises solidified his desire to write for teens about the challenge of confronting loss. John works for Booklist and is also a commentator for National Public Radio’s national afternoon newsmagazine, “All Things Considered,” and Chicago’s NPR affiliate, WBEZ. “Nick,” about John’s experiences as a chaplain, appeared on “Driveway Moments” a “best-of” two-CD set, which NPR released in August 2004. John was recently featured in the Tribune’s RedEye edition and on television as one of Chicago’s “Fabulous 20somethings.” He lives in New York City.
 
Published August 14, 2008 by Speak. 254 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, Business & Economics, Romance, Arts & Photography, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Looking for Alaska
All: 43 | Positive: 38 | Negative: 5

Kirkus

Excellent
on Jun 24 2010

The Alaska of the title is a maddening, fascinating, vivid girl seen through the eyes of Pudge...What sings and soars in this gorgeously told tale is Green’s mastery of language and the sweet, rough edges of Pudge’s voice. Girls will cry and boys will find love, lust, loss and longing in Alaska’s vanilla-and-cigarettes scent.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Jul 02 2015

This ambitious first novel introduces 16-year-old Miles Halter, whose hobby is memorizing famous people's last words...But the novel's chief appeal lies in Miles's well-articulated lust and his initial excitement about being on his own for the first time. Readers will only hope that this is not the last word from this promising new author.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by booknerdia on Aug 27 2014

Be prepared for a rollercoaster of emotions that Looking for Alaska brings, because although the book is quite short, it is one of the best books I have read and I would recommend it to everyone.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Scoutingforbooks on Jun 26 2014

It's just a good read because it shows youth in all its greatness, love in all its badness, and how trust can break up life.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Chloe, Millennium RIOT Readers on Nov 28 2013

The book is so well written and hilarious but also heart-breaking at the same time. The characters are so interesting and well presented, it's almost like they're real. I would recommend this book to anybody who loves reading as it is excellent!

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Pinkbookworm on Nov 13 2013

The beauty of the book is that it doesn't hide anything. It showcases what young love and growing up really are in a brutal and honest light. How the characters communicate, their relationships with each other, their pasts and the pleasure that comes with being a bad kid shine through the pages.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Maia, Millennium RIOT Readers on Oct 26 2013

This is the first book I have read by John Green and would love to read his others. I would recommend this book mostly to girls in love or teenagers into emotional journeys.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by New York Girl on Mar 22 2013

I'll be honest with you – I did enjoy Looking for Alaska. First of all, the structure of the novel is great, and most of all, original...It is definitely a book which delves into what teenage life is all about, young love and the stupid things you do to impress someone.

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Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by ablog on May 02 2005

With comical dialogue and some of the most identifiable characters I have encountered, Alaska, if nothing else, is a pleasure to read...The humor of the first half is equally balanced by the melancholoy of the second...Green manipulates our emotions to drive home philosophical questions about life and death.

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Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Elizabeth Provenzano on Apr 15 2015

John Green is notorious for writing about the intense woes of teenagedom...This is a great story to experience. And it IS an experience. You think, you wonder, you hope and you feel for these characters. Sometimes those feelings are good, sometimes they are bad, but either way, they are there.

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Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Stephanie Urso on Feb 12 2014

This book is a fun and heartbreaking coming-of-age story. "Pudge" finds himself contemplating the deep and powerful questions that life, love, and the loss of someone important can bring...Overall, if you enjoy heart-wrenching coming of age tales, Looking For Alaska is a book you should definitely pick up.

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Examiner

Above average
Reviewed by Amanda Leitch on Feb 11 2014

When he meets Alaska...Pudge is challenged to answer her enigmatic question (is it living or dying?) attached to Simon Bolivar’s last words about getting out of the Labyrinth... But no one will teach, challenge, or frustrate any of their little group more about the understanding the labyrinth of life than Alaska...

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Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Eugene Kang on Jan 30 2014

Alaska was Green’s first novel and his strengths are apparent even from the beginning. His characters are all hyper-intelligent and self-aware...Most importantly, verbal fireworks aside, Green has managed to create in Miles a protagonist with one burning desire - to live a brave, adventurous life instead of sinking into apathy and complacency.

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Kristin Wilson on Jul 15 2013

The innocence and honest pain Miles is suffering will keep the reader rooting for him throughout the whole book. Being a teenager is confusing and Miles can testify to that. But that doesn't stop him from searching, growing, and constantly trying to learn new things.

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The Bookbag

Excellent
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock on Mar 14 2011

This is one of those books that should just be read. Don't worry about what it's about, don't worry about what other people thought about it – in fact, don't even bother reading this review. Just buy it, set aside an afternoon and enjoy.

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BookPage

Above average
Reviewed by Sam Hobbs on Mar 01 2005

Green has written an inventive novel, one that will help young readers assess their place in the world and how they deal with one another. Looking for Alaska is funny, sad, inspiring and always compelling.

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Teen Reads

Above average
Reviewed by Alexis Burling on Mar 03 2005

Separated into two distinct sections entitled "Before" and "After," LOOKING FOR ALASKA is a compelling bird's-eye view of the ineffaceable effects of love and death on both the collective...Sadness, guilt, anger, trust, renewal --- the signature signs of grief and healing are all delicately unpacked in John Green's coming-of-age novel.

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Common Sense Media

Good
Reviewed by Matt Berman on Feb 05 2006

It's gorgeously written -- passionate, hilarious, moving, thought-provoking, character-driven, and literary. The characters may often behave badly, but they are vividly real...This is a hard one to put down...For the first half at least, readers will be grinning all the way -- and in the end, they will be moved, maybe even to tears.

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'Bout Books

Above average
Reviewed by Kimberly Hays on Sep 06 2013

The buildup to the death is riveting, making the book a real page turner. After the death, however, the story slows down, almost too much. You may find yourself skipping pages, though there are parts that need to be read, but perhaps the second half should have been shorter.

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The Young Folks

Good
Reviewed by Luciana Villalba on Jan 04 2011

I have to tell you, that even though at first I wasn’t as thrilled with the book, when I finished I was in complete awe of how good it was...I cried, I laughed, I loved this book. Beyond the whole high school drama, its about life and death. Its about how someone’s life touches you and changes your way of looking at things...

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The Celebrity Cafe

Excellent
Reviewed by Sakira Del Rosario on Jul 10 2013

his is one of those books you read that have the potential to make you see things from a different perspective, it inspires you. It's a journey of self discovery, a game of questions and answers that goes on in the minds of many and John Green does a good job at addressing each Big Question that arises.

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Digital Journal

Good
Reviewed by MARIA ELISA ANACAY on Feb 01 2014

Penned in a gripping narrative, Looking for Alaska undeniably left me questioning my ability to cope, and how far I would be willing to hold on to something or toss it away when it burns my very soul. If you read this book, make sure you're prepared for the aftermath: you'll be questioning the same things, too. Prepare for some sleepless nights.

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Bookslut

Good
Reviewed by BETH DUGAN on May 06 2005

It’s a book about the big things that happen to us: love, loss, grief, forgiveness. Green handles the slippery subject matter with grace and humor and this book transcends its genre of young adult fiction to be a fine book that anyone will enjoy.

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Curled Up With a Good Kid's Book

Excellent
Reviewed by Eva Kay on Aug 12 2008

Speaking of mastery, Green's entire writing style is magnificent. He manages to capture the voice of a sixteen-year-old boy but remain lyrical, which is quite the feat to pull off. Everything about this book is perfect...It's the kind of book that, when you finish, you want to start all over again, and it's highly recommended to everyone.

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Ccls Young Adult Spot

Above average
Reviewed by Katie on Dec 03 2010

One of my favorite book genres is realistic fiction. This might be one of the reasons I enjoyed John Green’s Looking for Alaska so much. I think maybe I loved it because it is so well written and the dialogue and characters are very believable.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by hdavis on Jul 03 2015

This book is worth reading because the characters are so real they jump out of the page! I think teens should read this book because it deals with real life situations...I thought is was so heart-warming between all the friends’ connections....This book is a definate must read for realistic fiction or coming of age stories.

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Teen Ink

Good
on Jul 03 2015

It was a well-written novel that will surely draw readers in. I couldn’t put it down after I started...I would suggest Looking for Alaska for mature readers only. It is a wonderful book and I can assure you that you will love it. It’s not just a love story, but a breathe taking one as well.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Christie C on Jul 03 2015

Overall, I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to kids in high school due to the maturity level. The characters in this story showed me the good and bad parts of life and still made me want to live through them.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by kittylin143, on Jul 03 2015

He uses Alaska’s death as a way for Pudge and the others to grow closer to one another while going on the journey of figuring out Alaska’s motives. “Looking for Alaska” is a true coming of age story full of love, humor, and triumph that all reader’s can relate to. I’d recommend this book to anyone and I guarantee that it wouldn’t disappoint.

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Teen Ink

Excellent
Reviewed by KennyN on Jul 03 2015

The sequencing and suspense in this novel is perfectly placed. John Green uses phenomenal quotes that pertain to the importance of life...Looking for Alaska by John Green published in 2005 is truly a phenomenal novel. I highly recommend readers who love suspense and drama to read this novel.

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Teen Ink

Excellent
Reviewed by Bethany N on Jul 03 2015

Looking For Alaska is an amazing book that teaches readers about forgiveness. Filled with heartbreak & happiness, Looking For Alaska is a book full of relatable acts of loss, friendship, and self discovery...If you have read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars I would also highly recommend this book to read.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Jake C on Jul 03 2015

I think this is the most believable and grabbing book I have ever read. Green creates many different personalities, from the prep with a hair obsession, to Miles with his talent for remembering last words...This book is a must-read for anyone who loves suspense and tragedy.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by efisher27 on Jul 03 2015

John Green's book, Looking for Alaska, is a riveting and inspiring novel that will capture the attention of teens from every demographic...Green's style makes this an effortless read with beautiful, natural language...John Green has outdone himself with this touching novel.

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Parental Book Reviews

Above average
Reviewed by Alli on Jul 05 2015

Looking for Alaska dealt extensively with the sea of troubles of Conscience, but bearly touched upon why we deal with it until the end. Alaska gave up, believing that there would be better beyond, that the suffering could not be worse than that something after death...Overall I liked the pretentious metaphors in this book. They were fun.

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Lit Stack

Above average
Reviewed by LitStack on Sep 24 2013

What transpires through Miles’ first year at Culver Creek is hilarious, alarming, amazing, touching, enlightening and heart-breaking, as it should be when one is 16 and just starting to understand the uniqueness of life’s journey.

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Reading for Sanity

Good
Reviewed by Heather on Dec 05 2014

What makes this story so gripping is the reality of the characters, developed so believably...And the way the characters react or act, depending on the situation, is so real...that frustration, that anger at yourself is so relate-able, so much the human experience. And this is why it doesn't surprise me that this is a huge hit with teens.

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Book Chatter

Above average
Reviewed by Ti on Jun 26 2012

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...The ending left a lot of questions unanswered...The structure begs for resolution. You cannot lead a reader down the before/after path and not give them something in return!

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Pretty Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Stacey on Dec 18 2011

Looking for Alaska does not have characters; it has people that you’ll empathise with and desperately want to know more about...Looking for Alaska lives up to its hype: the wonderful, moving début novel by a cherished young adult author. It’s a novel that will stay with you for a long time...

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The Overflowing Library

Above average
Reviewed by Kirsty on Apr 11 2011

Looking for Alaska was a nice enough book. I liked the characters in it and I enjoyed how they related with one another...All in all an interesting books which is worth a read for the quirky characters if nothing else but do not read the back before reading.

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Helen's Book Blog

Good
Reviewed by Helen on Apr 04 2013

I think the Colonel, Miles ("Pudge"), and Alaska are characters that will stay with me for a while...What they bring out in each other, their relationships, their secrets, their brazen honesty, is so very good...There is literature, math, religion, thoughtfulness, friendship, and... life.

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Nerdy Book Club

Good
Reviewed by CBethM on Sep 25 2014

I can definitely say that I did like this book but it’s one of those books that you can’t exactly talk to just anyone about without spoiling the central climax...I’m still in awe of all he did here. The vividness of characters that are completely original archetypes. The multitude of craft carefully weaved throughout...

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The Mountains of Instead

Good
Reviewed by PAUL ADAMS on Mar 11 2013

Knowing that her death is written in stone before even picking up the book doesn’t serve to diminish its impact in the slightest. John Green manages to squeeze every drop of empathy he can for his troubled teens...That this was John Green’s first novel only fills me with excitement to discover how he’s further honed his craft.

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http://www.heraldguide.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Jessica Becnel on Jun 08 2013

Looking for Alaska by John Green is unlike any book I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It touches on issues that I never even thought about before and puts life into perspective. It effortlessly managed to light a spark in me and left me pondering long after I had turned the last page. This book is an A+ novel and a must read to anyone.

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Rated the book as 3 out of 5

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