Review: Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska, by John Green

In A Reader's Respite's continuing foray into the Young Adult genre, we keep finding novels that astound us. We have moments when we are convinced that there the Young Adult genre produces more sophisticated, complex talent than any supposed adult-oriented genre.

2006 Printz Award winner Looking for Alaska is no exception. A Reader's Respite was blown away by the sophistication of this novel.

Author John Green weaves a mesmerizing tale of three boarding school students in the deep South. Our narrator, Pudge, is a scathingly witty outcast whose dry commentary concerning his classmates (and himself, for that matter) hooked us from page one.

Boarding school is a fresh start for Pudge and he relishes the opportunity to reinvent himself (doesn't happen) and start a quest for the Great Perhaps (does happen). As with most boarding school experiences, however, it is the new friends he discovers that will change Pudge's life forever, including the girl of his dreams, Alaska. But like Pudge, each of his new friends have their own demons to evade. Most are successful. One is not.

The darker side of this novel is about the choices we make, especially as teens, and the impact those choices have on the people around us. Any well-written young adult novel that touches on suicide invariably begs for comparison with Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why (click here if you missed A Reader's Respite's review of that one).

The verdict?

Looking for Alaska wins, hands down. Why?

  1. The depth of characterization is nothing short of masterful.
  2. The boarding-school prank scene (which runs approximately 5 pages) had A Reader's Respite laughing so hard tears ran down our face and we literally peed a little in our jammies whilst reading before bedtime. Mr. RR was intrigued by this and when we read the passage out loud to him, we both laughed longer than we have in ages. And laughter is good for a marriage.

It's pretty clear by this point what our recommendation is. If you haven't read it, you're missing out.

More reviews just in case we didn't convince you:

The Book Muncher
In Spring it is the Dawn
The Until Midnight Reader
All the World's a Stage
Write Meg!
Miss Print
Fluttering Butterflies
Fizzy Thoughts
Book Addiction


  1. I am surely getting this one for me soon :)

    and yes Laughter is good for marriage :) :)

  2. I so want to read this book too. Loved your review.

  3. I'm laughing and I don't even know why! And I've always placed "peeing in the jammies" as approximately an 8 or 9, on a scale of 1 to 10, for awesomeness. Going to have to look this one up! I don't pee in my pants near enough, only when I sneeze.

  4. I just skimmed this review because I have had this book on my MP3 player since the moment it was available on audio. I don't know why I haven't read it yet. Obviously I must. When I've read the book, I'll come back and let you know who wins: 13 reasons or looking.

    I've always loved the cover of this book.

  5. I haven't laughed so much a cry reading a book for ages. I really need to get a copy of this one now.

  6. I would love to pee in my pants before bedtime! I have this on my TBR pile but it is getting bumped up!

  7. This book made me cry from laughing so hard and then laugh from crying so hard. Good times. :)

    If you haven't read John Green's other books, you really ought to... Alaska's my favorite, but only by a tiny degree - the others are also excellent.

  8. I really want to read one of John Green's books - this one is definitely on my wish list.

  9. I haven't read Thirteen Reasons Why, but I've read Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines and I am now addicted to John Green, officially.

  10. I liked this one, but Thirteen Reasons Why would win hands down for me!

  11. This was my favorite of the three John Green's, by far. I think I liked 13 Reasons Why better though. I'm still thinking about 13.

  12. I was actually unimpressed by "Looking for Alaska". While it had me reading late into the night, I left the book feeling distant and like I'd hardly gotten to know the characters at all. "An Abundance of Katherines", meanwhile, was excellent - it had the wit that "Looking for Alaska" often lacked and the heart that was definitely missing from "Alaska". It was too much like "Catcher in the Rye", in a lot of senses (but a much better version, I'll credit John Green with that). And of the three, "Thirteen Reasons Why" is without a doubt the winner. There's something special and absolutely important to that book, even if I can't always put it to words. Always good to hear other opinions though. Diversity and all that.

  13. ok, I know this has nothing to do with the book being discussed, but I am in Alaska at the moment, so when I saw the title, I had to just drop in and wave! lol

  14. Can't wait to read this one. Heard so many wonderful things.

  15. Hey Caite - say "hi" to my hometown while you're up there. ;)

  16. I've heard about this book and I'm so glad you enjoyed it. It sounds amazing!

  17. Based on your description it sounds a bit like the movie "Dead Poets Society". It sounds very interesting. I'll add it to the TBR list.


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