John Green, Author . Dutton $15.99 (221p) ISBN 978-0-525-47506-4

This ambitious first novel introduces 16-year-old Miles Halter, whose hobby is memorizing famous people's last words. When he chucks his boring existence in Florida to begin this chronicle of his first year at an Alabama boarding school, he recalls the poet Rabelais on his deathbed who said, "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." Miles's roommate, the "Colonel," has an interest in drinking and elaborate pranks—pursuits shared by his best friend, Alaska, a bookworm who is also "the hottest girl in all of human history." Alaska has a boyfriend at Vanderbilt, but Miles falls in love with her anyway. Other than her occasional hollow, feminist diatribes, Alaska is mostly male fantasy—a curvy babe who loves sex and can drink guys under the table. Readers may pick up on clues that she is also doomed. Green replaces conventional chapter headings with a foreboding countdown—"ninety-eight days before," "fifty days before"—and Alaska foreshadows her own death twice ("I may die young," she says, "but at least I'll die smart"). After Alaska drives drunk and plows into a police car, Miles and the Colonel puzzle over whether or not she killed herself. Theological questions from their religion class add some introspective gloss. But the novel's chief appeal lies in Miles's well-articulated lust and his initial excitement about being on his own for the first time. Readers will only hope that this is not the last word from this promising new author. Ages 14-up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/07/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
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Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4178-3107-4
Prebound-Sewn - 221 pages - 978-0-7569-6726-0
Paperback - 221 pages - 978-0-14-241221-3
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-60640-598-7
Paperback - 221 pages
Compact Disc - 978-1-4233-2444-7
Compact Disc - 6 pages - 978-1-4233-2445-4
MP3 CD - 978-1-4233-2446-1
MP3 CD - 978-1-4233-2447-8
Prebound-Other - 221 pages - 978-1-4177-2915-9
MP3 CD - 978-1-4915-1067-4
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