Sunday, February 01, 2009

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Books Completed: 24
Completion Date: January 24, 2009
Pages: 256
Publication Date: January 2, 2007

Reason for Reading: Peer Pressure (in the form of lots of reviews!), Dewey's Reading Challenge. New Author Challenge.
Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave "the Great Perhaps" even more (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything but boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite ofsafe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. After. And nothing is ever the same.
Dear Dewey,

I had planned on reading more books for your challenge sooner, but your website was down, so I was holding off until I was sure if it was going to come back online or not. Now that it is back up, I feel that I should try and get as many books read as I possibly can, just in case it goes down again! I also didn't really think of this as a book for your challenge when I got it out of the library. It was just a book that I had seen reviewed all over the blogosphere, and decided it was time for me to see what all of the fuss was about! Remembering that it was a book for this challenge was just an added bonus!

So, yeah. This book is a bit of a tough one for this letter idea. I was reading your review and, well, this book is about death and when you wrote your review you said: "It made me think about death, and what happens after we die (my answer = I don’t know and neither does anyone else)." After I read that, I was trying to figure out what I was going to say that wouldn't make this post incredibly depressing! I doubt you would have wanted that, but I know that people that are reading these posts still miss you, so I don't want to upset anyone. Frankly, after I read that sentence, it dawned on me that you know what death is like now, and, well... it sort of put this book in a whole other light for me.

Okay, attempting to move on from that depressing topic! I agree with your opening thoughts on this book. You said "I usually feel that the highest praise I can mentally (or in this blog) give a YA book is that it will make kids think. But then I read this book, which made me, a sophisticated adult reader with an actual literature degree, think." This book made me think too. It is about death, but it is also about fitting in (not something that is always easy when you are in high school) and suffering (Alaska really suffered in this book). It also got me thinking about my high school years, which were rather different than the ones presented in this book. While not necessarily as hard for me, when you are living through high school it never seems easy!

The main character and narrator in this book is Miles. He wasn't having very much success at his other school, so he goes in search of something better. While there, the very first person he meets is his roommate, the Colonel, who in turn becomes his best friend and introduces him to the crowd that would become his closest friends. At the centre of this group of friends, though, is Alaska. She really was a great character! She does very well at the beating to her own drum ideals that everyone does sort of strive for, but as we get to know her better we discover that life has not exactly been great for her. Miles might be with a wrong crowd, by some standards, but they work well together. He has friends for the first time in his young life, and he comes to care about these people.

Miles really grows in this short novel. He experiences so much in that first year at a new school that is entirely foreign to him, but it helps him grow into the person that he eventually will be. I belong to the Green fanclub, now. This is a great young adult novel and I can't wait to read more from him! I also enjoyed the addiction to 'Last Words'. It is not something that I have really thought about before, but it was a learning experience. I hope you had really great Last Words, Dewey! Who knows, someone might even write a biography about you one day!

Until next time...


  1. I told you before that I love your letters to Dewey, and I think this is my favourite so far. You didn't make it depressing...I like that we still talk about this, about the fact that she actually died and that we still miss her and always will. I'd hate for Dewey to become a taboo subject. Talking about things helps. So thank you for writing so earnestly.

    Anyway...when I first read this book I suspected that John Green was going to become one of my favourite authors, and now that I've read his others, it's official! He's just so good.

  2. This was a beautiful post, Kailana. And I second Nymeth...JG is definitely one of my favorite authors.

  3. I just love these letters that you write Kelly :) They're very balanced. That Dewey knows what it's like after death now is a very interesting observation. I hope she's happy wherever she is...I know she is. Great review Kelly! Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. This is my favorite of your Dewey letters so far, I really like how you make them feel so much like you're just chatting with a pal about the book. And in a way I suppose that's just what you are doing.

    I have to agree with Nymeth about it being good to talk about Dewey. If no one ever mentioned her it would be too sad. Like with the Dewey Challenge, it makes me happy to know that people who didn't know her will learn who she was and why she was so important to everyone.

  5. I agree with absolutely everything the others said! I loved this book and think your letters to Dewey add a really nice personal touch. Thanks!

  6. Nymeth: This is my favourite letter, too. It was still a really hard letter to write, though! I agree with what you said, though... I must go see what I can read next for the challenge.

    Em: Thanks!

    Chris: Thanks! It is making the reading challenge fun... These letters, I mean! The first few came directly off my TBR pile, and while this one did not, it was still really great. I look forward to another Dewey-inspired book!

    Joanne: Thanks! I am trying to write the letters so they are chatty. Sometimes I worry that I forget and get a bit too formal, so I am glad my point is coming across.

    Mariel: Thanks!

  7. Congratulations! You won the New Author Challenge Sponsor Contest. If you want your free book, please email me at myjaxon at gmail with your Amazon wishlist (or a few books you want if you don't have one).


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