Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, 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, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
After. Nothing is ever the same.
Miles Halter, a very low-key, serene, teenage boy enrolls in a co-ed boarding school to shake his droll life up a little. On the first day, he falls in with a group of intelligent, though cynical, cigarette -smoking, booze-swilling pranksters, including the stunning girl named Alaska. The semester is spent sneaking around campus, pulling jokes, rapping, camping, drinking, telling stories, talking poetry and growing their bond. But beneath Alaska's confidence and spark is an element of tragedy, that leads to a heart-breaking twist that I never saw coming. Mile and his friends must come to turns with their lives after the tragic event and learn to be happy again.
John Green's writing style is like white bread: uncomplicated, pure, basic and once you start consuming it, you can't stop. And who doesn't like bread? The novel is almost entirely dialogue: funny, true-to-life dialogue, with dashes of interesting ponderings and action. They say a good novel has a character who changes himself or others. Looking For Alaska shows not one change in Miles Halter, but two. The first occurs in the "Before" portion of the book, where we find Miles's friends teach him to let loose and be a kid. In the "After" section, Miles has to learn to become an old, to come to terms with the more difficult things in life" death, guilt, disappointment and find a way to still be hopeful. Looking For Alaska is just a clean, brilliant look into the emotional year in the life of thoughtful, extremely Holden Caulfield-esque kid. And it is nothing short of perfect.
"And the way her mouth curled up on the right side all the time, like she was preparing to smirk, like she'd mastered the right half of Mona Lisa's inimitable smile..."