Miles Halter knows that he’s missing out on a lot in his humdrum Florida existence. He has no real friends, which leaves him immune from the normal drama of high school. But at the same time, he’s missing out on a lot of adventures. So he leaves behind his parents and life in Florida to attend boarding school in southern Alabama. There he meets Chip Martin and Alaska Young, and along with Takumi Hikohito and Lara Buterskaya, Miles begins having the kinds of adventures he knew he would never have in Florida. He is particularly drawn to Alaska, who is beautiful, brilliant, and a little unstable. And as Alaska draws Miles even further into her web, he knows his life will never be the same.
This book was recommended to me last year when I was first beginning my 888 Challenge (which I went on to fail spectacularly). I kept meaning to read it, particularly since EVERYONE I spoke with who had read it said it was fantastic. I decided it would be a good start to 2009- a quality book recommended by people I trust. And I enjoyed it a lot. Green has a unique style that meshes well with how teenagers today act. And I am endlessly amused by the nicknames his characters give each other (a particularly skinny Miles has been christened Pudge by his roommate Chip, whose own nickname is the Colonel).
My well-documented need for well-written characters was certainly met in this novel. I found myself easily picturing the characters, particularly Miles (who, in my mind, bears a strong resemblance to my brother- tall and stick thin). But Green is no slouch with the plot, either, always finding adventures for his characters. Though some adventures are certainly more substantial than others, each is the type that leads Miles further from the mundane existence he knew in Florida.
The teenagers in Green’s world aren’t perfect. But neither are they unintelligent or annoying. I think they’re some of the most real literary characters in young adult literature.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book for those who love YA lit, as well as for those who enjoy a compelling story.
Rating: 4 stars
Qualifying Challenges: 100 Books, 999 Challenge, Winter Reading Challenge, YA Challenge
999 Category: YA