Summary: Miles leaves his basically friendless life in Florida to attend a boarding school in Alabama, where his new roommate, nicknamed the Colonel, christens skinny Miles “Pudge” and introduces him to smoking, drinking, and a gorgeous girl named Alaska. Pudge begins to fall in love with the spunky Alaska while trying to avoid getting expelled with all the pranks and illegal activities his new group of friends engage in.
Cast of Characters
Miles “Pudge” – skinny, likable loser obsessed with the dying words of famous people
Chip “The Colonel” – a short native Alabamer with a big heart; drinker of milk & vodka
Alaska “Alaska” Young – apparently the greatest thing since sliced bread; enjoys Literature and smoking
Takumi – Asian who is NOT good with computers
Lara – pretty Russian/Hungarian/Romanian girl; she is actually Romanian
Katie – Lara’s man-hating friend who I feel the need to include because she shares my name
The Eagle – the headmaster of the school
The Old Man – teaches religion and helps his students ponder the Meaning of Life
Before & After
Miles tells the story in terms of Before and After (as in “180 days Before”, “179 days Before”, etc). I had no idea what the Event would be until it happened. Unfortunately I was not especially shocked by the Event due to the foreshadowing immediately beforehand. You know, when you read “I should have noticed such-and-such” and think to yourself, “Yeah, she’s gonna die.”
Boarding School Bildungsroman
This was a fairly average coming-of-age story set at a boarding school. Maybe I’ve just read too many of these (e.g. Prep, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, A Separate Peace, The Chocolate War, The Books of Fell, etc. etc.). You know the drill: character is a highly intelligent scholarship student who engages in an often political pranking war with the rich kids and has sex for the first time, while one of the teachers offers lessons about Life. “Oh Captain my Captain!”
The Fault in Our Stars better get the Printz Award, too
I figured a Printz winner would be more impressive, but perhaps having just read and loved The Fault in Our Stars, it is just paling in comparison. However, I think I enjoyed An Abundance of Katherines more than this one. And Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Next up: Paper Towns.
Obligatory Parental Advisory
There was quite a bit of underage drinking, smoking, and fairly graphic sexual situations.