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 May 17, 2014
This is an easy read. A well-written teen fiction book. Decided to read this book as I loved another book he had written. Loved it! Just like i expected. John Green is talented, and even though i don't like this book as much as i love his "The Fault in Our Stars", it was still wonderful book. I like his writing style and he allows us to feel like we are getting to know the characters; good character development in his stories.
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 July 8, 2013
Originally published [...]
Miles “Pudge” Halter is obsessed with reading biographies and especially collecting the final words of famous people. When the opportunity to attend his father’s alma matter boarding school he decides to seek out the Great Perhaps (a la words of the poet Francois Rabelais) His normally very safe life suddenly becomes very different at Culver Creek Boarding School because just down the hall lives Alaska Young. In this new world he has friends and adventures, but that was all before. In the after nothing is the same.
This is the first book that John Green published, and it’s the second of his books that I have read. Going into this book I knew that most reviews that I have read have been glowing, so I was excited to get started.
The only other book of John Green’s that I have read is The Fault in Our Stars I knew from that book that I love his writing style, and based on writing style Looking for Alaska did not disappoint. John Green has an amazing gift of writing. Throughout this book I found so many passages that I highlighted because they were just so beautiful. So many amazing quotations that make you want to stop and write them down. This book is divided into two parts (Before and After) and each chapter in the Before section starts with a countdown to the After section. This made me want to read the book very quickly because I had to find out what was going to happen. As I got closer to the after section I could feel what was going to happen, and when I reached the section portion I wasn’t surprised at all.
I liked the story, don’t get me wrong I thought the book was good, but when I was done I tried to figure out what everyone else was raving about. I think the problem for me was that I didn’t relate to the characters. I felt that they were believable, but I didn’t care about them as much as I felt I should have. People talk about being upset and crying when they finish the book. I didn’t have any of those emotions; I guess it was because I wasn’t invested in the characters enough. I also thought the “puzzle” of the After section was so obvious I didn’t understand why it took them so long to put the pieces together.
All in all I thought it was ok definitely not The Fault in our Stars, but I know that I definitely still like John Green’s writing style and I will read the rest of his stuff. I would rate this book 3.5/5
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 December 26, 2003
As in previous books written by Peter Jenkins, the author continues to examine himself and how he relates to both family responsibilities, (now including 6 children, 2 wives) and his desire to be a free spirit. His supportive wife accompanies him to Alaska and establishes a home base in Seward, Alaska for a year and a half. Various family members visit them, go on side trips, and their youngest daughter attends school there. He ventures out to watch the fisherman catch salmon, camps near a glacier with a daughter, takes a long ride with a conflicted woman, and acquaints himself with the Alaskan government, and other things.
The book is interesting but far too lengthy. There are repetitions. One nice touch is the inclusion of journal entries by daughter Rebekah as she enjoys excursions both with her Dad and alone. She will be a marvelous writer in the future.
Most of us here in the lower 48 are familiar with Alaska - the beauty, the cold, the wildlife, the oil pipeline, the salmon fishing, glaciers, and so many things unique to this state. Peter Jenkins leads the reader to believe he enjoys personal risk as he makes friendly with strangers and writes down their life stories for us. Many are worth reading but could be condensed. He doesn't seem to mind risking the lives of his family either. It's all part of the Alaska experience to him, loneliness, darkness, attacks from the wildlife, pot smoking hippie groups, bar scenes, as well as magnificent scenery and flying with the bush pilots across the endless white terrain.
Included in his travelogue is a trip into the bush with his father in law, an avid hunter whose idea of a thrill of a lifetime is killing an Alaskan moose. He does and he receives his thrill. This reader was not thrilled.
Along with stories of people living in Alaska trying to find themselves and enjoying their own pity parties, there were two memorable accounts of folks moving to this challenging state to give something of themselves to help others - the school teachers who moved to Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost city, to teach the native children and the veterinarian who lives deep in the bush but near a beautiful lake. He journeys far and wide in the area to tend to the animals and help others.Satellite telephones and access to the internet make living in Alaska far easier than ever before.
The author did not include any stories of the polar bear or cruise ship adventures. The account of the dog mushers was, in my opinion, the best one in the book. Salmon fishing was well described.
There is a map of Alaska in the beginning of the book for reference. The long book is worth reading if one is thinking about spending a year in the state, tho it does not cover the state in entirety. I, for one, will continue watching the Discovery Channel for Alaskan stories and reading more true adventures, eating salmon caught in Alaskan waters and keeping warm in New Jersey. I hope Peter Jenkins finds what he is searching for someday. This book is about him.