Looking for Alaska by John Green Review

Looking for Alaska by John Green book review
Looking for Alaska by John Green, ISBN 9780007523160, 272pp

I’ve only ever read one John Green book before – The Fault in Our Stars – so when my husband found me a couple of John Green books second-hand, I was curious to try more. I picked up Looking for Alaska knowing absolutely nothing about it. I didn’t even read the blurb.

Looking for Alaska tells the story of a teenage boy named Miles who is intelligent but lacking in social graces. He goes away to Culver Creek Preparatory High School in Alabama. It’s a boarding school where there seems to be minimal adult supervision and the kids get up to all sorts of trouble in their spare time. Miles bonds with his new roommate Chip nicknamed The Colonel, Takumi, a hip-hop enthusiast, and a beautiful but troubled girl named Alaska.

While all the kids are smart, they spend most of their spare time having intellectual conversations, drinking and smoking and having a prank war against other students and the Principal. This book sits firmly in the coming-of-age category. It’s John Green’s first book and a lot of it is said to be autobiographical. For example, Miles is fascinated by the last words of famous people which he shares with John Green.

I don’t want to give away too much about this book, but as you would expect Miles falls for Alaska, even though she has a boyfriend. There’s relationship drama, coping with family issues and then a tragedy that affects everyone in different ways. I felt Looking for Alaska was a bit the same as The Fault in Our Stars because of the tragedy angle. Up until that point, not much was happening so it’s like the author decided to create some drama that way. But perhaps I’m being too harsh.

While I read swiftly through this book, I didn’t feel like I identified with any of the characters. I didn’t see myself in any of them. Maybe because I was well-behaved as a teen and I never talked like a 40-year-old. Also, these kids smoke so much! Is smoking still cool? But I did know girls like Alaska who were beautiful, exciting to hang out with and a bit of a train wreck. At times I found the conversations between the teens pretentious, but maybe there are kids out there who talk like that. My teen years were a long time ago…

I thought Looking for Alaska was a good contemporary YA read. I can’t say I love John Green books. But I’m willing to read more.

Verdict: A coming of age novel that will pull on your heartstrings.

Have you read any John Green novels? What did you think?

11 thoughts on “Looking for Alaska by John Green Review

  1. Pam Webb December 5, 2019 / 12:06 am

    I prefer John Green as a Crash Course host. Not impressed with his books—teens that I know do not have either the drama or the sophistication he creates.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Janereads December 9, 2019 / 10:19 am

      Thanks for sharing your point-of-view. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who feels like this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pam Webb December 9, 2019 / 10:21 am

        Talented author, wonderful moderator—looking forward to his next really great novel.


  2. Lady B December 6, 2019 / 2:01 am

    Perhaps, easier access to information because of the internet means teenagers now think and speak in a more mature manner than we did years ago. I struggle with the same issue when I read YA books (I rarely do).
    It’s either they sound too mature for their age, (which I find unrealistic/implausible) or when they don’t I find I’m not interested in reading about their immaturity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Janereads December 9, 2019 / 10:18 am

      Teenagers are probably more sophisticated now than when I was a teen. I just sometimes wonder if it’s the voice of the adult author coming through rather than an authentic teen voice.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pam Webb December 9, 2019 / 10:24 am

    I teach AP students and even the brightest do not express themselves as eloquently as Green’s teens. Then again, it’s all fiction so toss reality out the window and enjoy the ride.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins December 13, 2019 / 8:10 pm

    I’ve read a couple of John Green novels (The Fault In Our Stars, and Paper Towns), and I swore up and down that they were enough for me… BUT you’ve kind of got me hooked with the going-away-to-school angle. I was sent away to boarding school as a teenager, and yes, there was a lot of smoking and pranking and thinking we were much older than we were 😅 Maybe I’d find it a little TOO relatable?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Janereads December 16, 2019 / 11:15 am

      It sounds like you should give this one a try!

      Liked by 1 person

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