Looking for Alaska — John Green

Green, John. Looking for Alaska. Speak, 2005. 221p. Grades 8-12. Realistic Fiction.

alaskaPudge, a transfer to a boarding school, falls in with a group of friends by accident. While making friends for the first time in his life, he also falls in love with an impulsive, dramatic, moody girl named Alaska. After a long night of drinking, Alaska drives, runs into a cop car and is killed instantly. Pudge and his friends become obsessed with finding out what happened in Alaska’s final moments.

Review: After reading A Fault in Our Stars, I was disappointed with Looking For Alaska, especially because Looking for Alaska is the book John Green won the Printz Award for. The Fault in Our Stars had such great characterization that I didn’t mind when Hazel used pretentious words. It was so in her character that it didn’t matter, because I knew that was how she acted. With Looking for Alaska, I didn’t feel that same connection with the characters. I wasn’t as invested in the characters with this book. Alaska seemed mildly clichéd, the typical girl with daddy issues. While her mother dying in front of her was traumatic but for some reason, didn’t read as authentic to me. It was hard for me to take what she said seriously because at times it felt forced, like this is how a girl with daddy issues is supposed to act, not this is Alaska’s character, this is why she is acting a certain way. Pudge and the Colonel read true, especially following Alaska’s death. The need to find out what happens to a loved one can consume your life. I was 16 when my cousin died when a drunk driver hit her. I had a huge desire to find out why someone would do that, why did it happen to her, and other questions.  I think the devastation that is left behind after a death is portrayed realistically here.  Takumi is the other character that wasn’t fully characterized. He character seemed static. He was a placeholder for the story and was able to come in at the last minute to tell Pudge and the Colonel what they needed to know to be able to start living without Alaska. It made him a one-dimensional character and I wish John Green had given him a more robust character. For such a short book, I think there could have been length added to fill out some of the characters.

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