Nadine's Reviews > Into the Wild

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
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's review
Jun 04, 2007

it was ok
bookshelves: non-fiction

Overall, I was pretty disappointed with this book. The genesis of the book was an in-depth magazine article, and I suspect that the article was superb. But I just don't think there's enough here to warrant an entire book. As evidence, I point to several lengthy chapters that have nothing to do with the underlying story--they discuss other people who have gone "into the wild" and, surprisingly, Krakauer includes a whole chapter about himself.

My other problem is that I found myself unable to identify or empathize with the central character here. I think that Chris McCandless was not much more than a privileged, entitled, selfish, and undeniably intelligent person who threw everything away and nearly destroyed his family for reasons that weren't any clearer by the end of the book than they were at the beginning. I worried far more about his parents and his sister, who he called his "best friend," than I did about him.

I ended up "finishing" the book by skimming the last 1/3, or maybe even the last 1/2. I almost gave this only 1 star but decided to go with 2 because I want to give Krakauer the benefit of the doubt--it's a well-written book, I just don't think it needed to be written at all.
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Comments (showing 1-33 of 33) (33 new)

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message 1: by Rachel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:02PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rachel I totally agree. I started skimming when the author went into his autobiography as well. So many people rated this book highly that I was beginning to think that I was the only one who didn't get it.

Sara ♥ I'm listening to the audiobook, and holy cow... wish I had a skim feature on my mp3 player!! I completely agree with you. This would be a great magazine article, but a WHOLE BOOK? WHY??? And his poor sister!

Msmurphybylaw I couldn't agree more. One long article. The movie was more emotionally evoking than this book was. And what was the author thinking writing himself into this book? I guess he needed to raise the page count.

message 4: by Amy (new)

Amy Thanks Godfrey. You saved me from a mediocre read.

Cynthia I agree in part because I, too, felt Krakauer used this tragedy as a means to have a forum to write about himself and his own adventures, and I found myself looking for the end of his story so I could continue with the one I bought the book for.

But I did relate at some level with McCandless, even if I didn't agree with his methods. I think we have to grant him an element of the unknown since we are reading about him through the eyes of Krakauer, and either Krakauer was sparing the family by not revealing the full details of the family drama, or there wasn't enough information provided through Chris' journal entries to fully discern his reasoning or feelings.

Clearly, something had driven him to leave his family in a lurch, and in the most painful and destructive of ways. Again, no excuses, but thinking about his travels and encounters, I couldn't help but feel something of a yearning inside the young man, something I felt very strongly as a young woman as well, always wanting to disappear into nature, away from the grid, the conventions and conformities of society and daily life.

I was very moved by McCandless' story in so many ways, but always distracted by Krakauer and his self-indulgences. Still gave the book a three just for the compelling adventures and terribly tragic ending. If you're reading this "K," that three is not for you!

Cory I agree with everything said here, hence my 3 rating.. If he would have just stuck to the main story of Chris then it might have been a better read.. But for my liking, he veered off path too often, and, even though I understand his 'reasons' for doing so, I don't feel it was necessary just to add some pages to an otherwise interesting book..

message 7: by Stephen (new) - added it

Stephen Cook Thanks for your insight. I read the article you referenced, and it was excellent, but I thought the article told me pretty much everything I would want to know about the young man and his adventure, & wondered how the book could provide further information. Your review confirmed my suspicion that the article was sufficient.
As to the character, I think what makes him interesting is his flaws, & this is what makes people react so strongly to him. I agree with all the criticisms of his character, but if he had acted intelligently and not died, no one would be remotely interested in him.

Sara ♥ Stephen wrote: "...if he had acted intelligently and not died, no one would be remotely interested in him."

And then I wouldn't have spent time reading this book! A positive all around, I'd say.

Kaitlyn I don't think I could have stated this any better.

Simone I agree with the fact that some parts of the book had nothing to do with 'Alexander supertramp' and almost went completely off topic.
I was also disappointed not to see my favorite quote 'I hate money, it makes people cautious'

But I do believe it was a bit more in depth to what he went through. Would of been nice to have some more information- but it's hard when all you have to go by is word of mouth by other People who met him and by the smallest diary entries he left. As it is a true story and you can't really talk to a dead man.

Andrei I think you misunderstood the whole point of the book. If your main goal in reading a book is to empathize with the main character, you might as well go read some Sandra Brown novels :-)

message 12: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt W I couldn't disagree more with you on this. You make a valid point that Krakauer does ramble on a bit in certain chapters while describing the lives of other people that related to Chris. However, I think this added an important part to the story. Maybe it's just that I can relate to Chris in many ways, but to me I think the story of Chris' journey needed to be longer than just an article. The whole thing needed to be told and that's exactly what Kraukauer did. After reading this book I could tell that Chris was a highly motivated and driven character and I applaud him for taking the chance to live the way he did! In remarks to your statement "I think that Chris McCandless was not much more than a privileged, entitled, selfish, and undeniably intelligent person who threw everything away and nearly destroyed his family for reasons that weren't any clearer by the end of the book than they were at the beginning" I would say you didn't get much out of the book. Much of the book describes how he traveled acroos the country, living off the land. I'm sure if you had the chance to ask him if he threw everything away, he would respond saying that he is living the life he wanted to and that's all you can ask for in life.

Krystal Cartwright Agree, loved the book but would have been perfect without the other chapters.

Eliana I think the idea of the book is an investigation, of course it will be like a magazine article because it was writtern by a journalist, that was the idea... I agree abt Mcandless, his strange personality creates different reactions in people... Krakauer shows how people wrote to say they agreed or not with him! I don't know, personally, I like the book and admire the investigation the author made to find out all the missing parts of the story and the people who met Chris in the way...

Megan I skimmed through those parts, too!

Aaron George Thanks for the review, it will save me the trouble. Peoples' opinion of McCandless is all they ever write about, while completely neglecting the fact that this is a place to review literary works. I have opinions about the "boy" too, but they are exactly that, opinions, and would be better debated elsewhere. The book is nicely written style-wise and Krakauer did warn up front that he had woven himself into the narrative. Still, I found it irksome to have to suffer through a bunch of tales of wayward souls that just felt like filler.

José I wholeheartedly agree with your first paragraph. The book went on so many tangents, only a few of which were truly relevant or entertaining.

message 18: by Keir (new) - rated it 3 stars

Keir Thomas Completely agree! Enough material for a lengthy magazine article, but nowhere near enough for a book.

Steve Goldschmidt I disagree. The chapters that stray from the central story help put this "type" of personality and adventure in a context and I found that helped round the story out even better

message 20: by Lupu (new)

Lupu I would disagree with your opinion. Krakauer had an idea about the long chapters: the wildness where Chris McCandless can identify himself. The focus is on the self-realization, which only could happened in the nature. Chris became an adult and get known himself and his different preferences compared with others. I would rate this book with 4 stars.

message 21: by Princessag (new)

Princessag I really like this book and I agree that it is written a little bit too long, but I also think that this book isn´t there to worry about Chris or Chris´ family. In my opinion Into the Wild lists the problems our society is dealing with. That´s one reason I can understand Chris´ behavior and his disappointment in his father. Otherwise he is a curious person who wants to explore nature and it´s beauty. That´s why the book has such a length so show Chris in all his facets.

message 22: by Emma (new)

Emma Is anyone else incredibly bothered by the sparaticness in which the events in this story are told? I'm inly 35 pages in and already losing interest due to Krakauer's lack of ability to write chronologically.

Katie Agreed. There was very little in the book about McCandless. I felt the author wanted to write a memoir instead of a book about McCandless. The amount of material was definitely more appropriate to a magazine article than to a book.

Samwise Krakauer does warn that he's gonna be quite present throughout the story in the Author's Note... I think he was trying to tell the reader that Chris was a lot like himself, and to relate himself to Chris so that the reader could understand Chris better. But he might have had the opposite effect of just alienating the reader, and maybe casting an unwanted and untrue light on McCandless.

William Madeng I agree with Emma options in this biography of Chris and his family. .that the sharp lack of ability of krakuer to tune in word a good chronological story writing made it look very worse then any other books.

Denise La greca I totally agree

message 27: by John (new)

John Totally disagree... the whole point of those digressions was to analyze the type of characters that have similar drive to break away from prescribed societal norms and the draw of the unknown. Made the book all the better.

Samira I disagree with you saying that Krakauer didn't spread the chapters correctly. I feel that he tried to put emphasis on the idea of Chris being independent... Good review.

message 29: by Aldo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Aldo I disagree with your review Nadline, the chapters were well spread.

Patricio I respect your review, but do you think that Chris personality makes this a bad book? Don´t you think that his father secret could had affect him really much?

Rodrigo Elizondo An excellent review, I understand the confusion you experienced reading this book not everyone identifies with it. The whole purpose of this book is for you to create your own opinion based on what you read.

message 32: by Roxana (new)

Roxana Russo Excellent review Nadine. I too didn't feel any sympathy for the main character, nor did I appreciate the author using it as a platform from which to write about himself.
I was bored to tears after the first few chapters.
Thank you for this first-rate (and accurate) review.

message 33: by Nigel (new) - added it

Nigel Agreed. I stopped reading it today. I just wasn't that interested.

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