There are many YA novels that detail the struggles of teens throughout the years, ranging from the most minuscule of happenings to the most horrific of events. Looking for Alaska by John Green does an excellent job of combining both into a comical, yet heart-wrenching, novel about a sixteen-year-old boy named Miles’ first year of school at Alabama’s Culver Creek Preparatory School. Used to being on the outside of things, he is suddenly thrown into small, yet troublemaking, friend group. He befriends the loud Chip, the rapper Takumi, and the beautiful, broken Alaska Young. Alaska is an enigma all in herself, and Miles quickly becomes drawn to her. After a shocking, horrible event leaves the students at Culver Creek Preparatory School reeling, Miles is determined to find the answers, thus beginning his journey to solve a mystery that continues to haunt him.
Out of all the John Green novels, I have to say that this one is definitely my favorite. I enjoyed the fact that this story was told by Miles, as the readers get to see his warped view of Alaska, a person who he makes out to be much more perfect in his mind than in reality. The writing is both clear and humorous, as there is always the much-needed comic relief in the perfect places. The journey that Miles goes on throughout the novel to come to a series of realizations is extremely well-written, for we see his character change right before our eyes. From a shy teenager with no friends, to an amazed and infatuated sixteen-year-old boy, to a grieving friend, his character development is both hindered and encouraged by a variety of events. However, I would like to have seen more of his character when it wasn’t revolving around Alaska, as we never truly see much of him before her besides his obsession with last words. I absolutely love this novel and cannot recommend it enough if you enjoy YA novels; however, because it is a YA novel, it will have many of the same elements in the story that some people might not like. As a result, this book is definitely in a specific genre and may not be for everyone.
Age rating: 14+
Star rating: 4 stars