Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

September 30, 2013

Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Books
Year: 2005
ISBN: 9780007523528
Rating: ★★★★☆
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Looking for Alaska is about a young boy in high school, and his relationship with Alaska, an unusual girl.

I bought this book while I was searching for a romantic title to read on my weekend. I would not say that my search yielded exactly what i expected but i was more than happy with what i got. The love story is the background in which the author cooks a tragic tale of separation. The journey of the narrator takes us towards finding the answer to one of the most difficult questions in human life – how to cope up with the loss of a loved one?

The whole story revolves around a bunch of teenage friends who meet each other in Culver Creek Preparatory high school. The narrator is a shy and curious young boy, Miles Halter. His only purpose in life is to go beyond his horizon and search for the “Great perhaps”. His aim is to find the answer to life and its meaning. One of his favourite hobbies is to learn the last words of famous people and his search for “Great Perhaps” comes from the last words of Francois Rabelais who allegedly said on his death bed, “I go to seek a great perhaps”. Can you find it, is “the” question, and what happens after you do?

In the high school, Miles gets to befriend a bunch of moody but lovable, arrogant yet thoughtful, rebellious yet open minded people. He meets Chip Martin whom others call “Colonel” (I won’t tell you why) and Alaska Young. The book bears its namesake from this young girl. When I was first introduced to Alaska in the book, i was a bit interested with the sensuous adjectives with which her physique and unstable behaviour were portrayed. Miles Halter describes her in his own words, “If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane”.

The school days are beautifully described. French classes are boring, religion classes are thought provoking, Alaska preps her friends for Math exams and then there are the sudden night time raids by Mr. Stern “Eagle” (Dean of students) in the boy’s hostel room while they are smoking or drinking booze. The story is funny. My favourite part is where Laura, a Romanian immigrant in the school and Miles’ girlfriend wants to give him a “blowjob”. She is unaware of how to do it and they barge into Alaska’s room in the middle of the night to get her advice. That’s something you don’t read every day, do you?

Of course, a book that ambitious is not without its critics. In America, the book has been challenged for its sexually explicit scenes. Many parents have also written to libraries to censor it. Still, this book is a favourite amongst academics and youngsters alike. I believe that this book is a must read for every teenager because it opens their eyes towards a certain reality of life. Some people have said a lot about how they find this book vulgar and inappropriate. To me this book is an innocent and exciting adventure towards the search for a great perhaps in life, something that we all yearn for.


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