Book #1: Looking for Alaska by John Green



Warning: Inevitable Spoiler Alert

Overall rating: 3.0/5

I started off with this book because I figured it would be an easier read than some others on my list, since it is considered a YA novel. However, I honestly don’t think this book is appropriate for the typical YA audience!

Based on the title, I sort of knew as soon as I learned that Alaska was a person, that she was going to die. I found this book to be more predictable than The Fault in Our Stars (another John Green book), which maybe shouldn’t shock me since this really is YA fiction.

In a nutshell, Miles, a high school student leaves public school to attend boarding school, because he is a loner type and has no friends. He gets into a crowd of folks, including a gal names Alaska, who is falls very hard for. They do all kinds of stuff — smoking, pranks, etc. Fun to read.

I did enjoy the mention of last words throughout the novel. Miles is fascinated with famous people’s last words, which was an interesting addition to the narrative.

I found a lot of the book to be a little over the top (again, because this is YA fiction). As an adult, I felt comfortable reading it and actually feeling quite sad at some points. When Miles mentions the pit in his stomach where he knows he will never feel himself again, made me almost cry, actually.

Loss is such a complicated and traumatic part of life, I hope YA readers can maintain their integrity (and pursuit of the Great Perhaps) without be coloured by the experiences depicted here.

I liked it, and recommend adults read it if they are interested in YA fiction, but I think it’s a little too intense for the casual YA reader.

6 comments on “Book #1: Looking for Alaska by John Green”

  1. I wonder whose idea it ever was that kids need to be exposed to such sad things in books? This one made both of mine–not just my girl but also my boy–cry. After that, I didn’t think I’d ever read it, but it’s still on a bookshelf in my house, and I think I’ll give it a try after the challenge is done, just to see for myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Despite crying, did they enjoy the book? It is a quick read, took me 2 evenings and a bit, but being a person who has had extreme loss at a young age– I just don’t find it necessary to instill this kind of reality to youth. The world is hard enough when such things *actually* happen– I find little need in getting a young imagination all sad and scared for what is yet to come–


    2. Also, I’ll say, romanticizing grief/loss seems to happen in this novel, and that really makes my heart/brain ache.


  2. Thank you for this review. I read A Fault in Our Stars, and appreciated it. My son is 13, and it is good to know that this one is intense- I will probably not introduce him to it at this point. There is enough grief and sadness in the world around us right now, so perhaps best to find him a funny Captain Underpants or something a little bit more light-hearted!


  3. I wholeheartedly agree with this review. As a reader of John Greene books, I appreciated that this book followed his formula less than the others. I supposed that’s what makes it seem less YA. I read this book a few years ago so the details are fading a bit but I do remember being heartbroken by his loss and the description of how he felt.


  4. meredith- I felt the A Fault in Our Stars had more of a reality check (the cancer bit) that I found much more palatable than this novel. In this novel, the female is pretty wreckless and emotional (I have trouble with women being portrayed this way with little growth throughout the work).

    Gina- he really is an author with a formula. Reminds me of Chuck Pahlaniuk who I stopped reading after his 8th or 9th book because it was like listening to the same album over and over.


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