by Robert Drinkwater
From The Fault in our Stars to Turtles All the Way Down John Green has been a personal favorite writer of mine. Each of his novels are character driven and I’ve always been drawn to his complex and realistic characters in his novels. Looking for Alaska was no different.
The story follows Miles Halter who goes to a boarding school in Alabama “In search of the great perhaps”. Miles makes several new friends when he goes to this school, Chip “The Colonel”, Takumi, and Alaska Young, whom he is instantly infatuated with upon meeting her. The novel follows Miles as he faces several obstacles and tribulations and even tragedy along the way.
One of the most important themes of this novel is that it is a coming of age story. These types of stories have always been a classic genre, from The Catcher in The Rye, to Huckleberry Finn. In this case Looking for Alaska is a coming of age story for Miles Halter. He wanted to get away from his old life in Florida and make new friends at Creekwood, and he does just that. Throughout his journey we see Miles go from being shy and awkward to more outgoing and even pulling off a spectacular prank. John Green also portrays youth in a realistic way with realistic situations. Some of Miles obstacles include pulling pranks on the other students, trying not to get caught sneaking out past curfew, and overcoming tragedy. The characters make rash and impulsive decisions, however they are also portrayed as intelligent, insightful and articulate.
This is a character driven novel and we learn more about each one as the book progresses. One of my favorite parts in the novel was a scene that I felt was one of the most pivotal scenes was when Miles and his friends were playing a game that Alaska made up “Best Day, Worst Day” in which everyone tells the group about their best day and worst day and whoever the winner is, the rest of the group has to take a swig of wine. I felt like this scene was pivotal because we as readers learn so much about each character, such as The Colonel’s desire to maintain a 4.0 GPA so that he can become rich to support his mother, Lara coming to the U.S. from Romania, and the reason why Alaska doesn’t like to go home for holiday breaks. Each character has their own story and during this part I found myself more empathetic for each character.
While most characters were interesting, I felt like Miles was kind of bland compared to the others. Other than the fact that he could memorize the last words of famous historical figures, I felt like it was the side characters who really carried this story along. Miles didn’t exactly have a unique personality compared to that of The Colonel and Alaska.
Overall, this book is compelling, humorous, and poignant. It has interesting and realistic characters, plot points and is a coming of age story that seems more in touch with young people that portrays them in a realistic manner. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adult, coming of age stories.