Looking For Alaska

Looking for Alaska, by John GreenLooking for Alaska
by John Green

Looking For Alaska is apparently a young adult book. That I had no idea of this fact until I checked some of the book’s details on Amazon is perhaps testament to the quality of the book, or to my own idiocy. As usual, the answer probably lies somewhere in between.

Looking For Alaska is a kind of coming-of-age story and existential dilemma that concerns Miles Halter leaving home for boarding school. Almost immediately upon arriving, Miles falls into the right (or wrong) crowd of characters; luckily for you, he and his newfound friends have just the right chemistry, and their rants, antics, and surprisingly intelligent philosophical discussions carry the first half of the novel.

Note that I said “first half.”

Sadly, when their focus changes in the second half, the novel suffers. Which is unfortunate, given that the first half essentially sets the stage for the second half. And that the book is based on the supposition that the questions raised in the second half are worth chasing.

A paradox, yes. But not one you need to resolve in order to like (or dislike) the book.

The writing itself is good, and the characters, if a little ahead of their time, are at least portrayed consistently. (You may or may not find them convincing boarding school students.) They all have interesting quirks—Miles is obsessed with last words, for instance—and are sympathetic sorts of people, despite their many flaws.

This, in a way, is a good description of the novel itself: a sympathetic sort of book, despite its many flaws.

Good stuff, for a debut novel.

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