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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green
Originally Published: 2005
Edition I Read Was Published: 2007
Publisher: Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group
Source: Purchased

The Story

From the back of the book:

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (Francois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

The Response

I didn’t think I would like this nearly as much as An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, or his portion of Let it Snow… I was totally wrong. Totally and completely 100% wrong. This may have become my most favouritest of them all.

Here’s the thing that I most like about John Green: his protagonists are not only nerds, but they are realistic, believable nerds. Anyone who was/is a nerd in high school will have no problem relating to and empathizing with Pudge.

The rest of this may be spoiler-y. But I imagine most people have read this by now. (And if not, then they really should.)

Here’s the thing that made this so heartbreaking: Pudge doesn’t get his first set of good friends until he goes away to boarding school. That first group of really good friends, if you haven’t had many (or any, in the case of Pudge) good friends in the past, can seem much more important than what good friends would seem if you’ve always had them around… so when you lose one of your first good friends, it seems to have so much more of an impact… you’ve never really experienced growing apart from friends, never really had a rift with friends before, and that lose feels like so much more. And Pudge must deal with the loss not only of one of his first good friends, but also the loss of the first girl he falls in love with. Tear jerking, to say the least.

But this wasn’t just a sad story – it had some quite funny moments too. In that way, it quite reminds me of Maureen Johnson’s The Key to the Golden Firebird: both heartbreakingly sad, mixed in with absolute hilarity. It’s a good balance, and allows a brief interlude from the sadness.

The Bottom Line

A wonderful book, but be sure that you keep a box of kleenex nearby – you’ll need it! It has gained the spot of “Favourite John Green Novel” on my shelf. Highly recommended!

Other Reviews

Bart’s Bookshelf, An Adventure in Reading, Things Mean A Lot, Bookshelves of Doom, The Written World, Stella Matutina, Sassymonkey Reads. Have you reviewed this book on your blog? Let me know and I’ll add your link.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 6:43 am July 20, 2011.
Category: Young Adult
Book Author(s):
Publisher(s): ,

  • Melissa

    This was my first Green novel and after it I was completely hooked. He has such a wonderufl voice.

  • Kailana

    I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book!

  • Marg

    One of these days I will actually read John Green! I have been meaning to for ages, but it hasn’t happened yet.

  • Court

    Melissa – he really does have a wonderful voice! :)

    Kailana – me too!

    Marg – yes, you really do need to! His books are all quite wonderful!

  • sassymonkey

    I’m glad you liked this one. :)

  • anothercookiecrumbles

    I read Paper Towns last year and loved it. Have been meaning to read this and AAOK for a long time, but just not gotten ’round to it.

    Glad you thought this was that good… incentive for me to read it soon!