Miles has always led a fairly boring life. Then he decides to seek out The Great Perhaps by attending an elite private school. There skinny Miles gets the nickname "Pudge", befriends the Colonel, impresses everyone with his knowledge of famous last words, and falls for the clever, elusive prankster, Alaska Young. Alaska, with all her mysteriousness and unpredictability, offers her friendship to Miles and spices up his otherwise drab existence.
Alaska is the type of person that you want to befriend even though you know she's dangerous. Miles is desperately in love with Alaska almost from their first interaction and his obsession sets the tone for the novel. Maybe obsession is a harsh word, but really I mean to say that Miles is so completely focused on Alaska that he doesn’t quite see that she is suffering. Alaska is an elusive creature and Miles only sees her beauty. One of my favorite lines from the book is a scene where Alaska has fallen asleep on Miles’ lap and he wants to lay down beside her.
“But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.” (page88)Alaska completely changes the way Miles sees the world, she challenges him to be different and to stretch his limits. When tragedy strikes, Miles is no longer sure he wants to be different. The first half of the novel is innocence and looking-before-leaping. The second half is growing up and making sense of a seemingly senseless world.
Looking for Alaska is why I like teen novels. Miles’ voice is real and he has a way of thinking about the world that is accessible. John Green doesn’t dumb down this novel and I enjoyed that it can be read on several different levels. When reading it, I folded over no less than 10 pages and marked up countless passages because I loved the words so much. In trying to write this review, I could only come up with superlatives. This book has it all: drama, humor, and great discussion topics.
Fans of Looking for Alaska may also like Gossip of the Starlings by Nina de Gramont and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.