I don't know why, but John Green's Looking for Alaska is often classified as a children's or young adult's book. While Green's debut novel may be a little less in-your-face than a lot of modern fiction, it's philosophical narrative - although sometimes over-stated - makes it worthy of comparison with the great literature of today.
Pudge Halter, the main character in Alaska is obsessed with last words. And it is the last words of Francois Rabelais that set the tone for the novel and inspire Pudge to leave home and seek adventure in an Alabama boarding school: I go to seek the Great Perhaps.
Pudge does encounter the Great Perhaps, and it is not as exciting or easy as he had imagined it to be.
With comical dialogue and some of the most identifiable characters I have encountered, Alaska, if nothing else, is a pleasure to read. Although it's not a major secret, I want to avoid giving away the major plot twist in the book, which is hard, since the second-half of the novel is based on this particular occurence. But the reason it is better not to know what will turn the story beforehand is because the first half of the novel is so well written, you'll become entirely engrossed with the Pudge Halter's circle of friends, adopting them as your own.
The humor of the first half is equally balanced by the melancholoy of the second. It is extremely rare that I am emotionally moved by any piece of art - from film to music to book - like I was by Alaska. Green manipulates our emotions to drive home philosophical questions about life and death.
Another famous set of last words throughout the novel illustrates Green's inquisitive look at mortality and human existence. Before dying, Simon Bolivar asked, "How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?"
While you may not find the spiritual answer to human suffering in Green's novel, you will at least be reminded of some of the important questions. Green has written a masterful novel to begin his career, and if he continues to write like this, he has a wonderful career in literature ahead of him.