Tiger's Reviews > Up in the Air

Up in the Air by Walter Kirn
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Nov 02, 2010

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To be honest, the reason I chose this book is just because the movie adaption of the same title of this novel since we all know the basic concept that: the film adaption seldom overwhelms its original text one. So what an exciting novel it would be since the film adaption has already been on an Oskar Nominee level. However, after few chapters reading, I quickly found that the huge gap between the book and the movie. Although this novel is not a better text-presentation of the movie adaption, it still contains comprehensive ideas worthy to think about it.
The whole story is surrounded the life of a crazy, sophisticated, isolated career transition counsellor called Ryan Bingham. He showed his distinct characteristics even from the first sentence of the novel “To know we, you should fly with me.” He is such a usual business guy with most of the time flying around the country. What he is unique is that instead of enduring the boring flying routine, he actually enjoyed the life on the planes, in the airports or the hotels. He did not have a so-called home and regarded his home in the air. As the most important plot of the novel, Ryan is seeking to his goal to earn one million flier miles. For fulfilling his goal as soon as possible, he grasped every single time to save his miles. And during his constant flying, he met many different people and even got a vague relationship with a business woman called Alex. The story ends at the time that he made his aim to come true.
Despite the relevance of the movie “Up in the Air”, the most intriguing thing to me is that this is a book to reveal the realistic business life in nowadays world. I would like to know more about the lifestyle of the business since I know that sooner or later I am going to be one of them. Someone suggests this dark satire on business field. I would agree on that. As Ryan described himself, “...cross the terminal, smile at the agent, say Yes, my bags have remained in my possession, say No, I haven’t let strangers handle them...” These same old same old routines accompany with most of business man’s lives. So when reading these lines, I could even view the image of my future life to be in business field. Would that be boring as the continuous away of home? Would that be lonely that if staying in different hotels all the time? Would that be irritating to let some companies like Great West to decided what I am going to eat or where I am going to live? Would that be shame to visit family members only during Christmas or New Year? Instead of saying this novel disappoints me on the perfect business field image, I prefer treating that an alarm to inform me with some problems of the business field.
Also since the relationship is also one of the significant theme of this novel. We could view many different types of relationship between the protagonist Ryan and people surrounding him. His indifferent relationship with his family, his vague somehow chemical relationship with Alex, or even his social relationships with strangers in his travelling impress me a lot. Moreover, while showing his ability to connect the entire US, he is not good at connecting with anyone else such as his sister or even his mother.
And the ending that Ryan donated all his precious miles to children’s hospitals reminds me the character development or transition. He finally found that his goal to earn the miles is meaningless and also his live up in the air is not only about the miles. The miles he earned is just a number, but what he actually needed to deal with is his real life.
For sure this novel is not 100% perfect one. As far as I’m concerned, this is not a plot-driven novel since there are too many redundant information in the novel and the plot seems wander away all the time. This would definitely bother my thoughts and decrease my enthusiasm to finish the novel. Besides I could not get many of the satires in the novel although it is the remarkable point of this novel.

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