Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green


December 26, 2014 by Bernadette ~ The Bumbling Bookworm

Looking for Alaska
by John Green
Publisher/Year: Harper Collins, 1 March 2011 (originally 3 March 2005)
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: I bought it
Rating: 3 Stars
Other books from author: The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Let It Snow, Will Grayson, Will Grayson and more

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Goodreads Synopsis

A deeply affecting coming-of-age story, Looking for Alaska traces the journey of Miles Halter, a misfit Florida teenager who leaves the safety of home for a boarding school in Alabama and a chance to explore the “Great Perhaps.” Debut novelist and NPR commentator Green perfectly captures the intensity of feeling and despair that defines adolescence in this hip, shocking, and emotionally charged work of fiction.

Miles has a quirky interest in famous people’s last words, especially François Rabelais’s final statement, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” Determined not to wait for death to begin a similar quest, Miles convinces his parents to let him leave home. Once settled at Culver Creek Preparatory School, he befriends a couple of equally gifted outcasts: his roommate Chip―commonly known as the Colonel—who has a predilection for memorizing long, alphabetical lists for fun; and the beautiful and unpredictable Alaska, whom Miles comes to adore.

The kids grow closer as they make their way through a school year filled with contraband, tests, pranks, breakups, and revelations about family and life. But as the story hurtles toward its shattering climax, chapter headings like “forty-six days before” and “the last day” portend a tragic event―one that will change Miles forever and lead him to new conclusions about the value of his cherished “Great Perhaps.”

What I Thought…

I think there might be something wrong with me, I feel like I’m the only person who didn’t really enjoy this book… Perhaps I was a victim of the hype monster – I feel like maybe this was built up a bit too much for me, and then it completely fell flat instead.

I don’t know why but I felt irritated the whole way through this book.  I was irritated with the countdown as chapter headings, wishing it would all just hurry up.  I knew something was going to happen to a particular character (and I knew which one that was), so I was just like “happen already!”

I also found the characters irritating, especially Alaska – that girl drove me nuts.  I couldn’t understand her actions and I didn’t find her relateable.  Same with Chip, the Colonel, all of them really.  I know that I struggle with books when I can’t find characters relateable on some level, or I at least have to be able to understand their perspective.  Unfortunately, I think that was part of the struggle here.

I think what got me through Looking for Alaska and what kept me reading was John Green’s writing.  He has a way of keeping me interested no matter what, and I needed to know how this book ended.  Any other book, I probably would’ve put it down and DNFed it, given my level of irritation.  Not this book.  That’s a testament to a talented writer and it was a big reason why I persevered with this.  No matter what I felt for the characters, Green’s writing is first class.

I’m so annoyed I didn’t enjoy this as much as my last John Green, The Fault in Our Stars.  I reckon I may have to give it another shot down the track, to find out if I truly am the odd one out!  I’m thinking that it may have been my frame of mind, but we’ll see.  I’m still super keen to read other John Green books, I have Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines sitting on my shelves so I’m sure it won’t be long before I venture back into the world of John Green.

What did you think of this book?  Did you enjoy it?


2 thoughts on “Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

  1. I had the same experience when I read this book a few years ago. It was my first John Green book and I have to admit that the hype on youtube may have ruined it for me. Although I thought the story was great, I didn’t feel connected with the characters either, which makes it really difficult for me to “like” a book, no matter how well the writing is. Sometimes, I read John Green’s books and wonder what all the hype is about and I feel like such a missfit. Up until now, the best book I’ve read is The Fault In Our Stars because that has been a story I can relate to and connect with the charachters. I’m currently reading An Abundance of Katherines…and have been doing so since September. I mean, who manages to date so many Katherines? Who even knows so many Katherines?! Things like that seem so unlikely and make it difficult for me to commit to the story. Whoa, sorry, didn’t mean to start talking about John Green’s book in general but yes, I can relate to what you feel. It’s exactly how I felt too. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  2. No, you are not alone. Looking for Alaska I found was the worst John Green book for me. It might be because it was one of his first books but I didn’t like it either. SO YOU’RE NOT ALONE! And it DOES get hyped up a lot and really, it’s not the best. I mean it’s okay, but like you said it drags on a bit.
    Thanks for the review, and I’m glad that I am not the only one out there who isn’t the biggest fan of LFA!!!

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Hi! I'm Bernadette, a 27 year old lawyer who loves to read (duh!), especially to escape my day job. I love to talk about books but I don't always get the opportunity to do so, hence my blog! I adore YA literature, most genres of Adult Fiction, and I've also been known to pick up a non-fiction book from time to time. I hope you enjoy your visit!

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