on August 24, 2007
Miles Halter is the type of high-schooler who always faded into the background at his public school in Florida. He had few friends, by choice as much as by fate, and wanted only to study his passion--memorizing the last words of people who had died. After reading the dying words of poet Francois Rabelais, "I go to seek a Great Perhaps", Miles is convinced that there's more to life than what he's so far experienced.
So Miles sets off to spend his junior and senior years at Culver Creek, a private boarding school in Alabama. There he gains his first nickname "Pudge" (a misnomer, by far, since Miles is quite skinny); meets his first love, Alaska Young; has his first sexual encounter with a Romanian girl named Lara; and gains two great male friends, Chip "The Colonel" Martin and Takumi Hikohito. He also experiences the joys and sickness of getting drunk, the strangeness of smoking cigarettes, and the unadulterated pleasure of playing pranks.
Pudge's new group of friends have their own quirks--The Colonel memorizes countries, capitals, and populations; Alaska collects books for her Life's Library that she hasn't yet read; Takumi relishes being The Fox. They all work together to irritate their teachers, avoid confrontation with The Eagle, the school's dean, and pull off pranks against the rich Weekday Warriors that are the popular clique at Culver Creek.
But LOOKING FOR ALASKA is mostly the story of growing up, of falling in love, of dealing with loss, and getting through life as best that you can. With wonderful dialogue, fascinating prose, and characters that are so real you'll think you know them personally, this is a book well worth reading. Not just is it the story of a group of teenagers looking to find their way out of the labyrinth of loss, or just the story of finding our Great Perhaps, LOOKING FOR ALASKA is about living the best life that can be led.
I loved this story, and highly recommend it. Once you do, you'll realize it's no surprise that it won the Teen's Top 10 Award and the Michael J. Printz Award--in fact, it probably deserves more.
Reviewed by: Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius"
on April 10, 2004
Being close to Peter's age, I read his first two books soon after they were written and loved them. When I saw that he had written a book about Alaska, one of my dream destinations, I had to buy it. I decided that I would read this book before making any concrete Alaska travel plans. I've almost completed the book and have had a hard time putting it down. It truly fuels my desire to see the REAL Alaska. In fact, I just told my husband yesterday that we need to not only visit Alaska in the summer, as most everyone does, but in the winter also. Being the Florida sun-lover that he is, of course he thought I was crazy. But I would love to have taken the 1 1/2 year adventure that Peter took. He has a way of drawing you into his stories so that you feel you've been there, too. I was totally amazed and inspired by the grueling and dangerous lifestyle choices made by many of the individuals and families that Peter met. I recommend this book to anyone with a sense of adventure and desire to learn about life in wild places.
on December 28, 2003
I gave this to my Dad, an aweseome man, really, and an engineer, but with a soul.
I discovered Peter Jenkins when my roomate at college told me to read his first book, `A Walk Across America' when I was complaining about how pathetic this country was. He actually walked across the whole country right out of college, which is amazing, but what was truely amazing was that he stopped and worked with all kinds of different people, very different from himself. He discovered this country like no one I have ever read about and made me wonder about it and realize that I was being a bit silly for condemning it without knowing much more about it than the Boston suburbs.
Anyway since then I have become a fan of Peter Jenkins, eventhough he is more the age of my Dad.
I bought the audio version of `Looking for Alaska' for my Dad for a holiday gift and listened to it before giving it to him, as an escape from finals.
First of all Peter Jenkins has a very calming voice. And best of all he brought me to a place I had only faintly dreamed of, Alaska, and showed me more about my country.
Very few people really listen to people and feel their lives and do not judge their place in this world. Peter does and I would give anything to be able to travel with him somewhere, someday. Come to think of it I already have. I will not be the same person after reading two of his books and listening to this one.
The other thing I like about Peter is that he brings to life people I would normally not agree with or want to know and I end up at least being open to them and their points of view.
In this politically correct world, especially here at college, where everyone at time sounds like clones or drones, how refreshing.
And maybe my Dad will take Peter's example and take me on an adventure like he did all his kids in Alaska. Or for that matter, maybe I should take him on one.
on December 28, 2003
Got this for Christmas from my nineteen year old daughter, now a Freshman in college. Have been listening for four days on a drive to Florida and back.
This book brings us the real Alaska, which the Discovery Channel and National Geographic often do not. Yes, there is the wild beauty of Alaska in this book but there are also the seedy bar rooms. Many times these views we get of Alaska on TV only show the besuty. There is a Brown bear but instead of running down the creek after a salmon in the gold light of sunset it is defending its food by almost killing this guy who wanders too close. This is one of the most hair raising, terrifying experiences I have ever heard of. There are real live people hunting moose (for those of you that live in la-la land like one of the reviewers prior, people still hunt in Alaska to live off the meat and just to plain hunt. Hey it has not been that long since we were all predators. There are the intense visions of bright blue glaciers but also the intensely moving story of a Native woman struggling with self realization, substance abuse and marriage. Wow, sounds like reality not some Disney-fake place many of the la-la land livers amoung us prefer.
Bottom line, wonderful listening experience. Peter Jenkins is no James Earl Jones but I like the author to read their own work. I will never think of Alaksa again the same way. I commend Peter Jenkins for telling the story of the real last frontier. The more phony our work places and politicians and places of worship get, the more they run and hide from the tough truth and sugar coat our world the more I like Peter Jenkins work.
My wonderful daughter who gave me this thinks this Peter Jenkins is cool, I think he is the real deal, and I can proudly say we both strongly agree on something. By the way the portion of this book, written by Peter's daughter, Rebekah, is quite wonderful. Hopefully she will write more. I am very glad they had her read her portion of this very fine audio book.
on April 23, 2015
Miles is in search of The Great Perhaps. (Aren't we all?) He ends up meeting a beautifully troubled Alaska. A darkly fascinating girl he so badly wants to get tangled up in. She is endlessly fascinating, while his only gimmick is his ability to recall famous last words.
This book drove me crazy and broke my heart. Definitely my favourite book by the always amazing John Green.
on July 14, 2006
I purchased "Looking for Alaska" on the recommendation of the staff of my local bookstore, after an exhausting search for a quality book for my teen son. My son enjoyed it immensely, barely putting it down. My daughter devoured it next and I was stealing it from her when she was doing other things. Yes! The book is that good!
John Green has written a stunningly insightful novel whose characters are real, and situations are familiar to many teens, as is evidenced by the fan mail to his website.
I could rave on and on about what a good book this is, but I won't. The book won the Michael L. Printz Award, and has been nominated for other awards.
Just order it. For a guy or a girl, or yourself order it!
on January 28, 2013
I would have to say that John Green is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors. I loved Looking for Alaska. There is something about Green's writing that captures me. There is an honesty and a quirkiness that explores both huge themes and minute details.
Pudge, who is obsessed with people's last words, is fed up with his life and goes to boarding school looking for the Great Perhaps. There he meets a whole new group of friends courtesy of his roommate, The Colonel. At the centre of them is Alaska, who is beautiful, smart and messed up.
Pudge is a great character, someone so many teens can probably relate to on some level - looking for meaning in their life, trying to fit in, getting picked on, listless... Alaska, on the other hand, is feeling many of these same things, but goes about finding her answers in a whole different way.
It is hard to say too much about this book without giving away the plot. I can say, though, that Green's writing is beautiful and engaging. He's got such a way with words, and this, along with his unique view of things, makes for great books. Each chapter has a countdown to a specific event, which certainly adds to the intrigue of the book as well as creates some urgency.
I think teens, both boys and girls, will really enjoy this book. These are characters that stay with the reader for long after the book is finished. One thing to note: there is a lot of content that some people may find controversial such as drinking, smoking, and sex.
on November 29, 2003
A fellow commuting neighbor told me I just had to listen to Peter Jenkins latest adventure book, LOOKING FOR ALASKA. I had read his monster best seller A WALK ACROSS AMERICA when I was in college and enjoyed it immensely. I listen to audio books all week long as I travel to work on the California highway system. This is one of the best audio books I have ever listened to. I felt like I was under that Brown Bear as it was biting through that man's skull. I was there when Peter and his talented daughter, Rebekah, were in kayaks next to icebergs and glaciers and even teared up as they both wrote of that intensely moving, rare father/daughter moment. I became for a time one of the Eskimo whalers living on the slab of ocean ice.. An incredible experience. Loved hearing Peter read the book, and his daughter, Rebekah, read the portions of the book she wrote, as well. This listening experience, over twelve hours of it, was why I prefer the actual author reading their work. They may not be as dramatic or their voices are not as trained but it is a more real, more moving for me. AND, really loved the natural sounds of Alaska and the brief voice excerpts of some of the main characters they used. This book on tape should win some award. Justina from California by way of The University of Michigan
on November 30, 2002
As I professor of writing, I have been deeply impressed with Peter Jenkins writing and the refinement and improvement it has shown over the years. Every one of his books is very different, a tribute to his adaptability and skill.
We teach that everyone should develop an original style, he has done that, a deceptively simple, yet often profound one. He allows his subjects to live, a rare talent of his to be sure.
I noticed in a newspaper article about him that this latest book, LOOKING FOR ALASKA, probably his best piece in so far as capturing a place won BookList's "TOP TEN LITERARY TRAVEL BOOK of the YEAR."
I remember arguing with a collegue that Jenkins was literary in his own way, I guess others are saying it now.
BRAVO Peter, another fantastic journey you have taken us on, keep developing that style.
I predict your books will still being read and published, like your 25 year old A WALK ACROSS AMERICA, when most of the other best sellers of today are gone.
on November 16, 2002
More than 20 years ago, Peter Jenkins took a walk across America. He took me along, as he did many other people. I read both installments in National Geographic, then went out and bought his story in paperback (remember those small paperback books?). I must admit, I have not read Peter's other books. However, after returning from a one week bicycle ride through Alaska, and while searching the internet to feed my hunger on Alaska, there was Peter's newest book, not yet out, but "coming soon."
Peter Jenkins and his family spent 18-months taking us to parts of Alaska we will never have the opportunity to see, other than through their eyes. I found myself in awe of them, and the Jayne family, when they traveled to the Jayne homestead in the bush. Another time it was thrilling to sit on the edge of the Arctic Ocean waiting for whales to bring food, warmth and clothing to the people who live in this forbidding part of the world. The day to day living of Peter and his family at their home south of Anchorage was filled with fun and excitement. Hobo Jim entertained, if only via Peter's written word.
The photos were beautiful; although no photo truly captures Alaska. The blue of her sky is the most beautiful in the world. My only complaint about Looking For Alaska was that it ended. Make this book a part of your personal library. It is a must for anybody who has even one drop of adventure coursing through his or her veins.