By John Green
Date Published: March 3, 2005
Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.
After discovering John and Hank Green's vlogbrothers channel (which has kept me wonderfully entertained and sane throughout the college application process) about a month ago, I finally ventured into John's writing with his debut novel.
Nearly seven years after its release, Looking for Alaska still holds the same it did when it received the Printz award in 2005. It’s raw, gritty (graphic at times), and doesn’t shy away from the reality of teenage angst and emotion.
While I never quite thought I can really see myself as this character or that character (mainly because I don’t smoke or drink or engage in many things of the same nature etc.), the questions Pudge or Alaska ask are ones which every young adult, every adult even, grapples with, like “How will [we] ever get out of this labyrinth?”
I admit that while I found Looking for Alaska enthralling in its closing, a majority of the novel "Before" left me feeling kind of empty. All the same, Green excels most in painting a picture of coming to terms with pain and loss. How do we escape suffering? Despite the aura of gloom and sadness, there is a sense that hope dwells in suffering. Things happen, but we move on.
The beginning may not have captured me, but the final stretch is completely worth it.