John Green is New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, and Turtles All the Way Down. Along with David Levithan, he has also co-authored the critically acclaimed novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He was the 2006 recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award, a 2009 Edgar Award winner, and has twice been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Green’s books have been published in more than 55 languages and over 24 million copies are in print. John is also an active Twitter user with more than 5.06 million followers.


Thomas Edison’s last words were “It’s very beautiful over there“. I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.

Looking for Alaska deals with the universal questions of love, friendship, truth, and the gray areas in between. This story is about Miles, who attempts to reinvent himself in a new school, with new friends and activities, and how his meeting with Alaska Young, a witty and carefree girl, changed his life.

The story is very realistic, especially since John has portrayed the characters exactly as one would expect them to behave without parental supervision.  It seems at first that the book is about a high school romance, but it turns out to be much more than that. It’s more of a tale of how love isn’t as translucent as it seems.

There are no chapters, in a traditional sense. Instead, the novel begins with an unconventional ‘One Hundred and Thirty-six Days Before’ and gradually counts down to the second part, ‘One Hundred and Thirty-six Days After’, leaving in the reader’s mind, an inescapable sense of dread as to what is going to be the pivotal point of division. The before is made up of routine, of monotony, of mundane happenings: kids going to classes, coming up with pranks, drinking, smoking, doing stupid things, hooking up. The after is gloomier, and shows how high school students often deal with troubles in life. That’s when the plot waves goodbye to the mundane and sets off for the momentous. And it is a serious, painful and genuine journey.

“So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.” quote from 'Looking for Alaska' by John Green

Miles likes to memorize last words. He talks about the words of Francois Rabelais before he leaves for boarding school, hoping to find a ‘Great Perhaps’ before he dies. And he finds Alaska – the gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska. She is an event in herself. She pulls him into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Alaska’s character is difficult to comprehend. She is impulsive, temperamental and passionate. It seems that every one of Alaska’s friends knows a different part of her and, throughout the book, different pieces of the jigsaw are revealed and brought together. It is through Alaska’s character that John introduces all thought-provoking topics.

At some point, you just pull off the Band-Aid, and it hurts, but then it’s over and you’re relieved.

The beauty of the book is that it doesn’t hide anything. Brutally and honestly, it showcases what young love and growing up really are. The characters’ communication, their relationships with each other, the highs and lows of their pasts and the pleasure that comes with being a bad kid shine through the pages. The suspense of the pivotal point, the mystery of the event, the fun of adolescence and the sadness in the story make this book a cocktail of emotions. This novel gives the readers an unfiltered peek into adolescence.

Ameya Rating:

With a commendable score of 3.9 out of 5, Looking for Alaska is a journey of self-discovery that explores true understanding, forgiveness, and eventually, the idea of love itself, asking innocent questions like, “Can we love someone without truly knowing them?” Readers might not weep buckets, but they will get attached to Miles and Alaska, just as they do to each other.

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