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Summary

Summary

- ONE OF AMERICA'S 100 MOST-LOVED NOVELS IN THE PBS GREAT AMERICAN READ -

The award-winning, genre-defining debut from John Green, the #1 international bestselling author of Turtles All the Way Down and The Fault in Our Stars

Millions of copies sold!

★ Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award
★ A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
★ A New York Times Bestseller
★ A USA Today Bestseller
★ Top Ten, NPR's 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels
★ TIME Magazine 's 100 Best Young Adult Novels of All Time

Before. Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words--and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for Culver Creek boarding school to seek what the dying poet François Rabelais called "The Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including clever, beguiling, and self-destructive Alaska Young, who will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

After. Nothing will ever be the same.

Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A modern classic, this stunning debut marked #1 bestselling author John Green's arrival as a groundbreaking new voice in contemporary fiction.


Author Notes

John Green was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on August 24, 1977. He graduated from Kenyon College in 2000 with a double major in English and religious studies. Before becoming a writer, he was a publishing assistant and production editor for Booklist, which is a book review journal. His first novel, Looking for Alaska, was published in 2005 and won the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in Young Adult literature in 2006. His other works include An Abundance of Katherines, a 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book; Paper Towns, which won the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Novel and the 2010 Corine Literature Prize; and The Fault in Our Stars, which was a New York Times Best Seller. He is also the co-author, with David Levithan, of Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Two of John Green's titles, The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, have been made into major motion pictures. His title, An Abundance of Katherines, made the New York Times Best Seller List. Paper Towns made The New Zealand Best Seller List 2015.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Editor's note: When John Green published Looking for Alaska, which would go on to win the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award, he was working at Booklist as a production editor. It is Booklist policy that a book written or edited by a staff editor receive a brief descriptive announcement rather than a review. Green's first novel tells the story of 11th-grader Miles Halter, who leaves his boring life in Florida in hopes of boarding school adventures in Alabama. A collector of famous last words, Miles is after what the dying Francois Rabelais called ""the Great Perhaps."" At the boarding school, he is blessed with a fast-talking and quick-witted roommate, who just so happens to be friends with the enigmatic and beautiful Alaska Young. It's Alaska who introduces Miles to the purported last words of Simon Bolivar: ""Damn it. How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?"" It is a question that haunts Miles, particularly in the last third of the novel as he and his friends are forced to cope with loss.-- Copyright 2007 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Green's young adult novel debut won him many admirers in its 2005 print incarnation, and that success is likely to be repeated with this admirable audio version-impeccably read by Jeff Woodman, a veteran actor with more than 200 audiobooks to his credit as well as lots of stage and television work. Woodman is especially good at quickly bringing to life three very different characters: Miles, a 16-year-old from a safe, middle-class Florida home; his new boarding school roommate, the angry, brilliant Chip, a scholarship student from a poor family; and most intriguing of all, the beautiful Alaska Young, a smart and funny breaker of hearts who carries some psychic scars of her own. Thanks to Woodman's skill at subtly capturing the energy, hopes and pain of these young people without resorting to vocal gimmicks, Green's insights into the impact they have on each other come across with full artistic strength. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

Gr 10 Up-The Printz Award-winning novel that kickstarted John Green's career and introduced a whole generation of teens to a new era of YA literature is turning 10 this year. Though the text itself remains the same, there are many extras included in this edition. There is an introduction by Green himself, a helpful Q & A section, and, perhaps most interesting for scholars, portions of the original manuscript that didn't make it into the final book, along with correspondence between Green and his editor. Purists may gasp to hear that the now-iconic "smoking" cover has been redesigned. But take heart; the new jacket, created by Rodrigo Corral, pays homage to the original with a deep black background and a subtle wisp of smoke. Replace worn copies and introduce a whole new crop of teens to this new classic. (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

"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. Excerpted from Looking for Alaska by John Green All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.


Table of Contents

"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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