Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska

4.5 1801
by John Green

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The award-winning, genre-defining debut from #1 bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars

Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award
Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
New York Times bestseller

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his…  See more details below


The award-winning, genre-defining debut from #1 bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars

Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award
Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
New York Times bestseller

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .

After. Nothing is ever the same.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Review from Discover Great New Writers
A deeply affecting coming-of-age story, Looking for Alaska traces the journey of Miles Halter, a misfit Florida teenager who leaves the safety of home for a boarding school in Alabama and a chance to explore the "Great Perhaps." Debut novelist and NPR commentator Green perfectly captures the intensity of feeling and despair that defines adolescence in this hip, shocking, and emotionally charged work of fiction.

Miles has a quirky interest in famous people's last words, especially François Rabelais's final statement, "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." Determined not to wait for death to begin a similar quest, Miles convinces his parents to let him leave home. Once settled at Culver Creek Preparatory School, he befriends a couple of equally gifted outcasts: his roommate Chip -- commonly known as the Colonel -- who has a predilection for memorizing long, alphabetical lists for fun; and the beautiful and unpredictable Alaska, whom Miles comes to adore.

The kids grow closer as they make their way through a school year filled with contraband, tests, pranks, breakups, and revelations about family and life. But as the story hurtles toward its shattering climax, chapter headings like "forty-six days before" and "the last day" portend a tragic event -- one that will change Miles forever and lead him to new conclusions about the value of his cherished "Great Perhaps." (Summer 2005 Selection)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
930L (what's this?)
File size:
423 KB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

"So do you really memorize last words?"

She ran up beside me and grabbed my shoulder and pushed me back onto the porch swing.

"Yeah," I said. And then hesitantly, I added, "You want to quiz me?"

"JFK," she said.

"That's obvious," I answered.

"Oh, is it now?" she asked.

"No. Those were his last words. Someone said, 'Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you,' and then he said, 'That's obvious,' and then he got shot."

She laughed. "God, that's awful. I shouldn't laugh. But I will," and then she laughed again. "Okay, Mr. Famous Last Words Boy. I have one for you." She reached into her overstuffed backpack and pulled out a book. "Gabriel García Márquez. The General in His Labyrinth. Absolutely one of my favorites. It's about Simón Bolívar." I didn't know who Simón Bolívar was, but she didn't give me time to ask. "It's a historical novel, so I don't know if this is true, but in the book, do you know what his last words are? No, you don't. But I am about to tell you, Señor Parting Remarks."

And then she lit a cigarette and sucked on it so hard for so long that I thought the entire thing might burn off in one drag. She exhaled and read to me:

" 'He' -- that's Simón Bolívar -- 'was shaken by the overwhelming revelation that the headlong race between his misfortunes and his dreams was at that moment reaching the finish line. The rest was darkness. "Damn it," he sighed. "How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!" ' " I knew great last words when I heard them, and I made a mental note to get ahold of a biography of this Simón Bolívar fellow. Beautiful last words, but I didn't quite understand. "So what's the labyrinth?" I asked her.

And now is as good a time as any to say that she was beautiful. In the dark beside me, she smelled of sweat and sunshine and vanilla, and on that thin-mooned night I could see little more than her silhouette except for when she smoked, when the burning cherry of the cigarette washed her face in pale red light. But even in the dark, I could see her eyes -- fierce emeralds. She had the kind of eyes that predisposed you to supporting her every endeavor. And not just beautiful, but hot, too, with her breasts straining against her tight tank top, her curved legs swinging back and forth beneath the swing, flip-flops dangling from her electric-blue-painted toes. It was right then, between when I asked about the labyrinth and when she answered me, that I realized the importance of curves, of the thousand places where girls' bodies ease from one place to another, from arc of the foot to ankle to calf, from calf to hip to waist to breast to neck to ski-slope nose to forehead to shoulder to the concave arch of the back to the butt to the etc. I'd noticed curves before, of course, but I had never quite apprehended their significance.

Her mouth close enough to me that I could feel her breath warmer than the air, she said, "That's the mystery, isn't it? Is the labyrinth living or dying? Which is he trying to escape -- the world or the end of it?" I waited for her to keep talking, but after a while it became obvious she wanted an answer.

"Uh, I don't know," I said finally. "Have you really read all those books in your room?"

She laughed. "Oh God no. I've maybe read a third of 'em. But I'm going to read them all. I call it my Life's Library. Every summer since I was little, I've gone to garage sales and bought all the books that looked interesting. So I always have something to read. But there is so much to do: cigarettes to smoke, sex to have, swings to swing on. I'll have more time for reading when I'm old and boring."

She told me that I reminded her of the Colonel when he came to Culver Creek. They were freshmen together, she said, both scholarship kids with, as she put it, "a shared interest in booze and mischief." The phrase booze and mischief left me worrying I'd stumbled into what my mother referred to as "the wrong crowd," but for the wrong crowd, they both seemed awfully smart. As she lit a new cigarette off the butt of her previous one, she told me that the Colonel was smart but hadn't done much living when he got to the Creek.

"I got rid of that problem quickly." She smiled. "By November, I'd gotten him his first girlfriend, a perfectly nice non-Weekday Warrior named Janice. He dumped her after a month because she was too rich for his poverty-soaked blood, but whatever. We pulled our first prank that year -- we filled Classroom Four with a thin layer of marbles. We've progressed some since then, of course." She laughed. So Chip became the Colonel -- the military-style planner of their pranks, and Alaska was ever Alaska, the larger-than-life creative force behind them.

"You're smart like him," she said. "Quieter, though. And cuter, but I didn't even just say that, because I love my boyfriend."

"Yeah, you're not bad either," I said, overwhelmed by her compliment. "But I didn't just say that, because I love my girlfriend. Oh, wait. Right. I don't have one."

She laughed. "Yeah, don't worry, Pudge. If there's one thing I can get you, it's a girlfriend. Let's make a deal: You figure out what the labyrinth is and how to get out of it, and I'll get you laid."

"Deal." We shook on it.

Later, I walked toward the dorm circle beside Alaska. The cicadas hummed their one-note song, just as they had at home in Florida. She turned to me as we made our way through the darkness and said, "When you're walking at night, do you ever get creeped out and even though it's silly and embarrassing you just want to run home?"

It seemed too secret and personal to admit to a virtual stranger, but I told her, "Yeah, totally."

For a moment, she was quiet. Then she grabbed my hand, whispered, "Run run run run run," and took off, pulling me behind her.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults Top 10
An ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers
A 2005 Booklist Editors’ Choice
A Kirkus Best Book of 2005
A 2005 SLJ Best Book of the Year
A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

"What sets this novel apart is the brilliant, insightful, suffering but enduring voice of Miles Halter." —Chicago Tribune

"Funny, sad, inspiring, and always compelling." —Bookpage

"Stunning conclusion . . . one worthy of a book this good." —Philadelphia Inquirer

"The spirit of Holden Caulfield lives on." —Kliatt

"What sings and soars in this gorgeously told tale is Green’s mastery of language and the sweet, rough edges of Pudge’s voice. Girls will cry and boys will find love, lust, loss and longing in Alaska’s vanilla-and-cigarettes scent." Kirkus, starred review

"Miles’s narration is alive with sweet, self-deprecating humor, and his obvious struggle to tell the story truthfully adds to his believability. Like Phineas in John Knowles’s A Separate Peace, Green draws Alaska so lovingly, in self-loathing darkness as well as energetic light, that readers mourn her loss along with her friends." —SLJ, starred review

"...Miles is a witty narrator who manages to be credible as the overlooked kid, but he's also an articulate spokesperson for the legions of teen searching for life meaning (his taste for famous last words is a believable and entertaining quirk), and the Colonel's smarts, clannish loyalties, and relentlessly methodological approach to problems make him a true original....There's a certain recursive fitness here, since this is exactly the kind of book that makes kids like Miles certain that boarding school will bring them their destiny, but perceptive readers may also realize that their own lives await the discovery of meaning even as they vicariously experience Miles' quest." —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

"Readers will only hope that this is not the last word from this promising new author." —Publishers Weekly

“John Green has written a powerful novel—one that plunges headlong into the labyrinth of life, love, and the mysteries of being human. This is a book that will touch your life, so don’t read it sitting down. Stand up, and take a step into the Great Perhaps.”
—K.L. Going, author of Fat Kid Rules the World, a Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book

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Looking for Alaska 4.5 out of 5 based on 9 ratings. 1801 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I feel heavy. And empty. I have read the book. It is over. For me, anyways. This makes me sad. The reviews of this book make me sad, and also a little bit angry because when people say that a book like this is 'amazing,' I think that they do not understand. This book was enormous. Today I told a friend that I was reading a beautiful book called 'The Fault in Our Stars,' but that she had better not read it, because it was mine. I understand Hazel. This book was enormous, but it came and went very quietly. I do not want it to be a sensation. I do not want it to be sensational for anyone but me. I do not want it to be anything. I do not want it to be made into a movie. I want it to be loved. I am very conflicted. I do not want people to read it who will not understand. I think I understand. I feel like I am breaking it. Everything. But this is how I feel. I wish that I had not purchased this book electronically, because then I could take the copy that I do not own wherever I go, pages folded, spine cracking, soft cover bent and loved and worn and used and perfect. This book was enormous, and yet it came and went... so quietly. It is a quiet book. After. You cry. You laugh. But the after. It is a quiet book. Thank you, John. ~Me
LastCapitalist More than 1 year ago
If you have not read this book, I recommend immediately you get up and go to your nearest library and get this book. This book will blow your mind, one of the books I almost teared up in. The author greatest achievements in this book is how he builds gut wrenching tension after every chapter with the 100 day till and so on. And when you finally hit the climax you will be in disbelief. Oh and be prepared to fall in love with the most diverse and compelling characters ever written.
AMorgan721 More than 1 year ago
I was pleasantly surprised by Looking for Alaska. For me, it started out very young and teenager-ish, which is probably because.well, it's a book about a bunch of teenagers, doing very teenage things. For a while I was thinking that I was just listening to a book that was going to be basically just that, teenagers doing teenage things; drinking, smoking, sex, and tormenting each other (yes, all of the above are included in this book). I figured there was going to be some great disaster and a lesson learned and wam-bam, you've got a book. The thing is, the book received several great reviews that I just couldn't give up on it. People saying how great a book it was - usually "people" do know what they are talking about.well at least some of the time. It took half the book - and then it happened, the great disaster I was talking about before. The thing is, it's much greater than you wanted or expected. And John Green is a genius, because by this time, you're laughing and enjoying yourself with these characters, so the blow is not just to the characters, but you feel it too. So, no, this book is not about a bunch of teenagers, doing teenage-y things, no matter how much of it is included in the book. It's a book about life. It's a book about very young people attempting to discover the meaning of life, love, true friendship, having fun, tragedy, depression, and even God. I was so impressed with some of the things that the author included about God, and religion in general, and not just one but several different religions. I am a Christian, and while he was simply skimming the surface of religions and religious beliefs, John Green nailed some things on the head, or at least included things that nailed it on the head. My favorite religious section: the discussion about the lady (I can't remember names right now - and since this is an audiobook, no book to reference) who wanted to destroy Heaven and Hell because she wanted people to love God not because he could get them into Heaven, keep them out of Hell, but because God is God! Many of the reviews I had read said that due to the mature nature of some of the stuff in the book, it probably isn't for young teenagers. I would have to agree. There are moments when I felt like smoking and drinking and even sex was not glorified exactly, but it seemed normal. And it is, somewhat, but as adults and parents, we should attempt to move and motivate for it not to be normal. On the flip side, the consequences of some of these actions are shown throughout the book.
joannazasiewski More than 1 year ago
i loved it. i cried throughout the entire 'after' part. like a baby. the only reason i regret reading this book is that now i don't believe any book will ever measure up to this one. absolutely great. there's nothing more to it!
rachael22 More than 1 year ago
When reading this book i laughed, became angried, and cried. This book is so gut wrenching that you can't put down the book. Looking for Alaska is a quick read and a good one too. The mysterious Before and After is quite ingenious if you ask me. I felt as though i knew something was going to happen but until that point it never really struck me. The quote "How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?" plays a huge part through out the book. This book is very relatable in the sense that you are a teenager or you once were the average teenager looking for adventure. I reccomend this book to anyone over the age of 13.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a intriguing book with twist and the every day life of some teens . You get to look into a world of a group of teenagers and see lust , drugs use , pranks , sex and everyday teens exploring themselves and the things around them just trying to keep out of trouble . The before will have you in depths of the book just to see if pudge and alaksa end up together . And to get to the after. Were the book changes courses completely . Ive only read this book once until i lent it to a friend and never recieved it back . Im buying it again bexause its worth the read . No mattter what book i purchase little peaces of the colonel , pudge, alaska and the others will stary in your mind , this is a once in a lifetime book made by an inspiring author who really tries to capture hopeless teens in love or lust . Each having their dofferent qwerks an intresting things abot them . Buy this book , read this book , you will NOT regret it .
harrypotterfan9 More than 1 year ago
i love john green, so i was expecting a lot out of this book. i was not disappointed. this is tied with harry potter as my favorite book of all time. i love the theme, i love the characters, i love all the pranks that are played, i love that miles memorizes last words (just like me!), i love all of it. it's a little inappropriate at times, so definitely a 15+ age range though. but DEFINITELY a must read. can't wait for the fault in our stars! DFTBA!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd watched the Vlogbrothers for the longest time w/o reading one of John's books. My friend actually had to rave about it before I allowed her to loan it to me. Don't wait like I did! READ THIS FANTASTIC BOOK NOW!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely adore this book. Its my favorite by John Green. Looking for Alaska will make you see life like you have never seen it before. This book is shocking, mysterious, soooo funny, and sad. There wasn't one time when I felt like I was getting bored. Every moment had a new way of pulling you into the story. I read this book in one day and one day I decided to read it again and it was as good as it was the first time. This is a captivating story and has an amazing plot. Everybody should read this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quick read. Thrilling,touching,amazing and life changing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
John Green has a way of writing deep and dark secrets of my life... The Fault in Our Stars in my favorite book and I want the world to love it But at the same time it's my little secret It's a preview of my life and for someone, Someone who won't understand me, my life, Hazel's life... It's a waste for them to read They can come to love the book but never have close to as many connections as I will have. As they should have. I want his books to be loved, and understood, and never forgotten because they are truly a treasure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ive read thia book about 10 times love it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book, as well as John Green's other books. It's brilliantly written, and it makes you feel all the emotions as well as though the characters are some of your closest friends. I would recommend this book to anyone!
Nicole_67 More than 1 year ago
I am extremely disappointed with this book. It has so many raving reviews. Maybe all the hype got my expectations up to high… I had such a hard time reading this book. It was just boring! I skipped pages here and there to get through it faster. The way it is set up with a count down to the "main event" of the story make you anticipate something so mind blowing, but it wasn't. I will admit that the event was not what I expected but it was not thrilling. The characters were uninteresting and unrelatable. They did not seem like realistic high school kids. Alaska is very annoying. No one acts like that and if they did they would have no friends. She is all over the place. Maybe the story would have been better if we heard it from her point of view, that way we would have learned more about why she acts the way she does. Maybe it is because I am not a teen anymore and that made it hard for me to relate. But I am only 20 and it cannot be that I am that disconnected from those who are about 4 years younger. I am just disappointed. The book didn't make me feel sad, or angry, or any other emotion but annoyance. I do not understand these endless 5 star reviews. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dear "me", I understand your thoughts completely. Anyone who has read any john green book understands. Once you finish it. There is no going back
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first time I had the pleasure to read this book was in high school, recommended by my librarian. I finished it that night and walked back in half asleep with a wide grin on my face. The plot and storyline the author portrays in this book is a rollorcoaster of 'oh's and 'awes, with one heck of an ending. I continue to this day to recommend this to anyone whom listens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down! I laughed, cried, everything. John Green is a genius,and I want to read it over and over!
CourtneyReads More than 1 year ago
The compelling story of Pudge and his friends is like no other. John Green really knows how to tug on your heartstrings. Looking For Alaska will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and most importantly, you will never forget it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looking for Alaska is a classic that anyone could and should love. For some odd reason I have the need to know what happens after. It is like AIA in The Fault in our Stars. I need a sense of closure. The end is just not enough. I crave for more text from John Green.
Angela Russell More than 1 year ago
One of, if not, my favorite book of all time. The characters are so realistic and enguaging. It felt so real like i was there the entire time.
J.R._BookWorm More than 1 year ago
A friend told me about this book, she said it was good so I bought it. OH MY GOD!!! It was so good!!! I couldn't put it down for a minute!!
It's about a boy named Miles, who goes to a new school. There he meets a girl named Alaska. He falls for her. But then something happens and everythings differnt.
I woulnd recommend this book to any of my friend. GO READ IT!!!!
Anonymous 8 months ago
This a wounderful book i highly recommend you reading this book!
Anonymous 9 months ago
This book is the best book in the world! At times i was laugh and at others i was crying, it truly is a good read
BuckyBarnes 10 months ago
I'm sorry, but this book was pretty awful. First of all, the writing style is absolutely horrible. It was extremely cheesy and disgusting. The characters are just as bad or even worse. Miles, or "Pudge" as his friends call him is a creep and just like every other main character in John Green's books, who falls in love with a girl who drinks, smokes, or both, and is supposedly misunderstood. He does not know how to write realistic female characters. These characters are racist and sexist and overall terrible people, especially Alaska. The whole story was boring, and it felt like there was no actual plot. The only part that seems even mildly interesting was the second half of the story, and even at that it was hard for me to read. In conclusion, please do not waste your time and money on this book.