Book Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Title: Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green

Genre: Young Adult/Teen Fiction, Boarding School, Coming-of-Age

Format: Paperback

“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.”

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository

_Summary(Taken from Goodreads)

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 (Francois 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 of safe. 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… Nothing is ever the same.


I couldn’t finish this book.  I hate saying those words, because as a rule I try to finish every book I start, so there are no loose ends and I can write a fair review.

I gave the book my full attention to page 78 and then turned to skim reading – I gave up eventually somewhere in part two.  It’s difficult because I really like and admire John Green – he’s a genuine and intelligent man, and probably because of that I try too hard to like his work sometimes.  The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns were brilliant, but An Abundance of Katherines (which I did actually manage to finish) and now Looking for Alaska have both fallen short for me.

The book follows Miles – nicknamed Pudge – as he moves away to a boarding school to find his ‘Great Perhaps’, certain that he won’t find it at home.  This is the only element of the book that I enjoyed; I liked that he was restless in his hometown, we can all relate to that.

I can’t explain with certainty why I didn’t like the book – perhaps the fact they were earlier works have something to do with it, as he was still developing his style – but in the case of Looking for Alaska, I found it difficult to relate to any of the characters, including Pudge/Miles.  Maybe this has something to do with my English school experience contrasting so much to Miles’ American boarding school experience – the pranks/hazing are something that strongly doesn’t interest me at all, and as a result just contributed to the irritation I felt towards the characters.  If I couldn’t like them or relate to them, the setting or any of the events, I felt there was no point in continuing.  Also, I know Alaska had some issues, but I found her unbearable and I was completely unable to sympathise with her… I cannot for a moment understand Miles’ attraction to her.

Even though I didn’t finish the book myself, I would still recommend reading it.  It has received good reviews (averaging 4.16 on Goodreads as I type this), and from a little post-reading research, the rest of the story sounds quite interesting.  Also, a number of my friends have read it and rate it highly.  On this occasion though, it really wasn’t for me.

Star Rating: ☆½ (1.5/5)

Has anyone else had the same experience I have with this book?  Should I have kept reading to the end?  Share your thoughts.


Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram


  1. June 7, 2015 / 12:07 am

    Personally Looking For Alaska is my all time favorite book. I completely understand what you’re saying but thought I’d give a little insight. Miles is attracted to Alaska because of her mysteriousness and willingness to do exactly what she wants. The exact opposite of Miles and exactly what he wishes he was. The pranks, smoking, and drinking are there to be fun and show the change of his personality, but more-so they are bonding experiences so they are very close when the tragedy happens. Personally I think it was a great book, but I can see where you are coming from. Great review!

    Ps. The whole school, barn, smoking hole, etc is based entirely off the boarding school John Green went to. As are the teachers, smoking, and every single one of the pranks. John says Miles is much like himelf at that age too.

    • June 10, 2015 / 3:04 pm

      Interesting you say this, because this is exactly what I was told by a friend when I made the decision to stop reading. By this point I had lost the momentum to continue, so maybe I will have to reread it at some point in the future. I do love the fact that John Green based the book on his experiences! I’m told he did a vlog where he visited his old school, so maybe if I watch that before rereading the book, I’ll be able to visualise things a little better. Thanks for the comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *