Do not pick up this book if you are looking for a story about the great state of Alaska. That, it is not. And, really, it's not even about the character Alaska. It's definitely a story that will make you think. What is this life? How do we manage to get through it? Is there a way out of the maze? And, something that really struck me, is being present in every moment... are you? Or are you thinking about what's to come, what needs to be done, or what you didn't do or should have done differently?
Miles, aka Pudge, leaves his home in Florida, tired of the life he has been living and in search of the "Great Perhaps". He heads to Culver Creek, his dad's alma mater, and it is there that his life begins to take on new meaning, new adventures. He meets his new roomie, Chip, in a rather revealing situation, who then introduces him to Alaska, the girl who will change his life forever. After the ritual hazing of the new student that was a bit more extreme for Pudge than for students of the past, his new friends vow to make the culprits pay.
And who are these new friends? There's Chip, aka The Colonel, Alaska, & Takumi. Instantly, these are the types of friends anyone would want, and John Green does an amazing job at not only making you realize that, but making it believable at the same time. Sure, they just met, but they are already willing to go to bat for this kid? Yup. And it works. The Colonel is someone who will always have your back and never turn his on you. Alaska is unpredictable, moody, and has a few screws loose, but she's loyal to those closest to her. They have their issues. They screw up. They fight. They make up. They love. Unconditionally. Who *doesn't* want that?
So. Much. Growth. Man, these people grow, change, and evolve in ways many adults in real life never get to do. Example: When we meet Miles, he's a nerdy introvert who spends his time at home, reading. Not that there's anything wrong with that... ;) He's always been smart, as one has to be to get into Culver Creek, but now he's out there, doing things he never in his life imagined he would do.
I can't say much more without getting into the After. We don't want to discuss the After. I was blissfully unaware of anything other than what the synopsis said when I delved into this book. Thankfully, my friends that had read it had never mentioned any of the plot points. I want to make sure I do the same. I feel the less you know going in, the better. For that reason, also, I had to leave out quite a few quotes I enjoyed. Again, blind is good. :)