“So we gave up. I’d finally had enough . . .” Without giving away spoilers that is how the award-winning LOOKING FOR ALASKA ends. What transpires in this novel is an undulating tale of teenagers looking for cigarettes, wine, and sexual advance. The detumescent novel fails to define its central conflict, leaving an end with no resolution.
What separates LOOKING FOR ALASKA from author John Green’s other book FAULT IN OUR STARS is a solid protagonist; Green gives the reader nothing to root for in his character Miles Halter. The lackadaisical attitude of Halter is reminiscent of Holden Caulfield—the differentiating factor being Halter’s higher sense of purpose in seeking “the great perhaps”.
The meandering characters seemingly have no aspirations outside of cigarettes and getting past “first base”. Occasionally they will study, philosophize, or introduce their sentimental family histories, but a bulk of the narrative is spent on pranks, making out, drinking wine, and laying about. This is not an exaggeration. As an example: several pages were given to one of Halter’s love interests (yes, the stereotypical love triangle is included) holding his manhood in her mouth, sitting still, unsure of what to do. Eventually both parties previously engaged in movement-less fellatio seek out the advice of Halter’s other love interest who demonstrates to them proper technique with a tube of toothpaste as her prop. This scene serves as a metaphor for the entire book: motionless and unorgasmic. For those thinking the book gets better after the build-up to the first half, you’ll be highly disappointed—it’s just a tease and then a letdown.