After reading The Fault in Our Stars last year and seeing many positive reviews of John Green’s earlier work I decided to start at the beginning of his oeuvre and have a read through. That brought me to Looking for Alaska. It also didn’t hurt that it made the top ten most frequently challenged books list of 2012 for having offensive language, being sexually explicit, as well as being unsuited for age group. I had to see what all the fuss was about.
We start the novel meeting Miles “Pudge” Halter’s life growing up has been uneventful. He’s virtually friendless and has decided that attending his father’s boarding school will be the change he needs to seek his “Great Perhaps”. When Miles arrives at Culver Creek Boarding School his life becomes the opposite of uneventful. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself; is funny, sexy, and a mess. There was Miles’ life before Alaska, and his life after.
The book itself is set up in two sections, Before and After. We’re with Pudge throughout the novel and his various adventures with new friends Alaska, the Colonel, Lara and Takumi as he navigates the events of his junior year of high school and how his relationships with all these people effect the person he is becoming. While I don’t believe in banning books, I did have moments where I blanched knowing my 14 year old niece read the scenes containing a blowjob and the vast amount of underage drinking, and then I was immediately mad at myself because I did a lot of underage drinking and smoking and was well versed in various sexual acts even though I had yet to personally take part in them at a similar age. The characters on the page are very real, but also have that signature John Green touch of being slightly enhanced from anyone you actually know. I whole-heartedly suggest Looking for Alaska make its way onto your to read list.