Looking for Alaska
Author John Green
Genre Young Adult Fiction
Release Date January 1, 2005
Pages 221 pages
Publisher Speak
Website John Green Books


Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words–and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Main CharactersEdit

Full Plot SummaryEdit

Looking for Alaska opens as the narrator, Miles Halter, leaves his home in Florida to attend Culver Creek Preparatory High School in Alabama for his junior year. He uses Francois Rabelais’s last words—"I go to seek a Great Perhaps"—as his argument for choosing boarding school at such a late age. Miles is fond of reading biographies, and particularly of memorizing the subjects' last words.

Soon after arriving at Culver Creek, Miles meets his roommate, Chip "The Colonel" Martin. The Colonel soon provides Miles with his very own nickname: "Pudge," ironic as Miles is tall and slender. Miles is later introduced to the Colonel’s friend, Alaska Young. Alaska is described as an attractive yet emotionally unstable girl. Besides Alaska, the Colonel also introduces him to Takumi, a student of Japanese descent. Alaska tells Pudge about Simon Bolivar's last words, which were "Damn it. How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!" Miles asks her what the labyrinth is and she tells him that's the mystery. After they joke about Alaska having a boyfriend and Pudge being single. They make a deal: if Miles figures out what the labyrinth is then Alaska will get him laid.

The eve of his first day at Culver Creek, (the school part), Pudge is grabbed out of his bed, duct-taped, and tossed into a nearby lake by the "Weekday Warriors," a group of rich Birmingham-area students of Culver Creek. The reason the Weekday Warriors duct-taped Pudge is because the year before one of their friends, Paul, had been expelled and they blamed the Colonel and his friends. Takumi insists this can't be possible because Marya, a friends of theirs, had also been expelled with him for committing three of Culver Creek's worst offenses: being naked in bed together, drunk, and smoking a joint. This argument incites a prank war between the Weekday Warriors and Pudge's group of friends. Alaska later admits she told on Marya and Paul to the dean of the school, Mr. Starnes, who The Colonel nicknamed 'The Eagle', to save herself from being expelled.

Alaska sets Pudge up with a girl, Lara. Lara came to America when she was twelve, and came from Romania. She had to translate everything to her parents because she was the only one in her family who knew English. Pudge and Lara have a disastrous date, which ends with Pudge having a mild concussion and throwing up on Lara's pants. Alaska and Pudge drink, smoke, and do many things together, causing him to fall in love with her, despite the complications of their relationships. The Colonel and Alaska have been planning a pre-prank to lull the Warriors into a state of peace. The weekend of the pre-prank Pudge and his friends head to the old barn by the school. Takumi and Pudge light firecrackers by the Eagle's house, causing him to run after them. The Colonel and Alaska would change the Warriors' grades on their report cards. And, finally, Lara put blue dye in the Warriors' shampoo and hair gel. The next day, while they're still at the barn, they drink, smoke and try to pass the time. While inebriated, Alaska tells them about her mother's death from an aneurysm when she was eight years old. She feels guilty for not calling 911, though she did not understand what was happening at the time. Pudge figures that her mother's death made Alaska impulsive and rash. He concluded that the labyrinth was a person's suffering and that we must find our way out. When they return to school, the Colonel and Alaska celebrate their prank by drinking every night of the next week. On the last night of these 'celebrations', Alaska dares Pudge to "hook up" with her, and they begin making out. After warnings from an intoxicated Colonel, she stops, telling him she's too sleepy, and they can leave it "to be continued". Then they all fell asleep. Alaska received a phone call in the middle of the night that leaves her hysterically crying and tells her friends she has to leave. The Colonel and Pudge help Alaska drive off school premises by setting off the remaining firecrackers from the initial prank on the Weekday Warriors. Alaska drives away, still drunk. She eventually crashes into a police cruiser at the scene of a truck accident on the highway, the steering wheel crushing her chest, and killing her instantly.

In the morning, the Eagle held an assembly, telling the students of Alaska's death. The Colonel and Pudge feel horrible, feeling they helped her death by letting her go. They find out the only way it could have happened was if she tried to squeeze through the truck and a police cruiser or if she did it on purpose, committing suicide. This causes them to wonder if they really are to blame or not. If she did commit suicide, then the Colonel believes she was selfish in making them help her. The Colonel insists on questioning Jake, her boyfriend, but Pudge refuses to, still clinging to the hope that Alaska wanted to be with him. They argue, the Colonel saying Pudge only loved the 'fun' side of Alaska, not all of her. Afterward, they make up, with Pudge realizing it's true and the Colonel confessing he's just angry and looking for someone to blame. They've been ignoring Takumi and Lara for a long time and apologize to them too (though Lara and Pudge don't seem to get back together). As a way of celebrating Alaska's life they plan the last prank. On Speaker Day the junior and senior classes are supposed to choose someone—a lawyer or small politician—to come speak to them. All of the junior class—Weekday Warriors, Pudge's friends, and everyone else—help with the prank. They convince the Eagle to let a friend of Pudge's dad come to speak of how sex is perceived by adolescents. In reality, they hire a male stripper. When the man starts to give his speech Takumi starts the music. The man shouts “This one's for Alaska Young!” and strips in front of everyone. The whole school finds it hilarious, even the Eagle who doesn't punish them. Pudge finds Alaska's copy of The General in his Labyrinth with the labyrinth quotes underlined. In the margin was written 'straight and fast'. Later they remember what date Alaska's mom had died and realized Alaska died the morning after. They figure one of two things happened. Alaska remembered the anniversary of her mother's death and came to the room sobbing that she had to go, referring to her mother's grave. But it was already after midnight, the next day. She was drunk and angry at herself. When she saw the truck and the police cruiser she was either drunk enough that she thought she could pass through or she was so angry with herself that she committed suicide, taking the 'straight and fast' way out. The last day of school Takumi confesses in a note that he was the last person to see Alaska alive, he let her go too. Pudge realizes that this doesn't matter, their letting her go doesn't matter as much anymore. He forgives Alaska for going and knows that she forgives him for letting her go.
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