Summer Reading Review 2: Into the Wild

Originally, I was going to go into a book store and get my first book I got from Laos, Veronika Decides to Die (see review here) exchanged for another Coelho book. However, I decided to take a short break from his books when I found Jon Krakauer‘s Into the Wild on the book shelf at home. In short, this book, a 1996 non-fiction, is about Christopher J. McCandless (February 12, 1968 – August 1992), who hiked into the Alaskan wilderness with little food and equipment, hoping to live in solitude away from humanity.

McCandless grew up in suburban Annandale, Virginia and graduated from Emory University in 1990. Instead of going to law school like he mentioned to his parents, he instead, donated $24,000 to Oxfam, ceased communications with the family, adopted a new name (Alexander Supertramp) and hitchhiked to Alaska.

The book is an expansion of Krakauer’s 9,000-word article on Christopher McCandless titled “Death of an Innocent”, which appeared in the January 1993 issue of Outside and later was adapted as a film directed by Sean Penn, released in 2007 under the same name.

It was definitely not an easy read. A lot of heavy information to process throughout and I had to pause a several times to take it all in. It is a series of information and stories from his family and those who met McCandless during his journey analyzed by Krakauer based on the findings and a little bit of his own experience. As I was reading the book, it almost felt like I was there sympathizing emphathizing (?) sympathizing/empathizing..with McCandless and at times found myself panicking and/or feeling helpless when McCandless was in fear. You can see that so much effort was put into the research and analysis and as Krakauer, too, is a mountaineer, his descriptions/explanations were almost too clear. Mixing in his experience, it was evident that Krakauer understood, to a certain degree, the inner motivation of McCandless. He addresses and examines the different controversies toward McCandless (some called him foolish, others pegged him as suicidal).

Overall, although not the easiest read, it was an engaging book. Of course, I had to watch the movie afterwards. The thing that I always have a hard time with is that I can’t expect the movie to be exactly like the book. That’s why I tend to treat it like two different stories and only focus on one or the other. The movie however, was beautifully filmed and was actually very interesting storyline wise. The fact that it starts off with Chris finding the Bus and goes back to his journeys was a pleasant suprise – it wasn’t confusing and was defintiely a creative way to organize the storyline.

I would definitely recommend the film. However, because there are no real ‘spoilers’ to both the book and the film (since we already know what happened to McCandless), I would say, watch the film first – the book has way more details. I almost would’ve liked to have not as much details when seeing the film version because I could fill in the gaps that were missing and it kind of spoiled on just focusing on the film. It would have been a totally different experience had I not read the book.

Just a thought.




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