Traci's Reviews > Into the Wild

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
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's review
Apr 03, 2008

it was ok
Recommended for: People who respect the outdoors
Read in February, 2007

I love Jon Krakauer. I didn't find one single thing about the Alex McCandless even remotely interesting. He came across as a spoiled brat with no concept of reality - basically because of his priveleged upbringing. But somehow, he blamed his parents for that void of myopic self absorption.

I live in Alaska and I've lived in Idaho and Colorado and Oregon . . . basically AROUND people who love the great outdoors. I am more comfortable in a heated coffee shop READING about the great outdoors. Still, I know that heading into any forest - particularly one at that latitude and altitude in pursuit of adventure with (a) no food, (b) no gear, (c) no plan and (d) no backup plan is nothing short of delusional or maybe just stupid.

I absolutely adore Jon Krakauer's attempts to explain Alex's possible motives and angst. I get that Krakauer identifies with some of what gnawed at Alex . . . that discontent . . . that feeling that life can't possibly be this pointless . . . etc. I wonder about those things with fairly consistent frequency. I suppose I have my own means of stamping those feelings out (alternating burst of extreme carbohydrate consumption and running or spinning; work and volunteerism). Still, the fact that Alex died of exposure in an abandoned bus in Denali National Park is less poignant than poetic - justice, that is. Darwinism, if you want to be cruel.

(Cringe) That sounded really awful, didn't it? But Krakauer carefully paints a picture of a young man completely disillusioned with the life that his parents provided for him, the future they groomed him for. A life easier, better than theirs. He points to his parents' mistakes and flaws as lightening rods for Alex's rejection of them and his pursuit of deeper understanding.

What a luxury. One that we all pursue at some point in our lives and if we have any sense, grow out of. I was constantly irritated with Alex for hitching, homelessness, biting every hand that tried to feed him. His lonely, desperate death not at all surprising and not terribly sad, either . . . except for what it put his family through.

I had no interest in seeing the movie. I saw trailer images of a young man looking off into the wildnerness with depth and intensity and that is NOT the Alex McCandless I got to know in the book. If Sean Penn managed to paint a more enlightened image of Alex, then he deviated from the book quite a bit.
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02/01/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-31 of 31) (31 new)

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David I completely agree with you. Thanks for verbalizing this so well (some of us didn't!). I wanted to mention, however, that I recently saw the movie and was actually impressed with how it was presented. I think having the movie constantly return to Alex's family really brought the pain and suffering of his loved ones into focus. You might enjoy the movie more than the book. I certainly did.

message 2: by Maria (new)

Maria Amen Traci! thank you for putting it eloquently - I was very disturbed and haunted by this book when I read it years ago and grudgingly watched the movie only to be once again haunted and disturbed for days. I guess I can see what people admire in him but it is not necessarily qualities that I admire in people. Idealism to a fault is really burdensome to the person and all those around them. I however thought the movie was a bit cheesey - particularly the over done and really obnoxious metaphor of the additional holes in his belt to show he was losing weight and the bad makeup job to show his failing health. In the end I just really pity his sad lonely end - it gets to me.

Jpiepkorn You saved me from writing a lengthy review saying the same thing. I enjoyed "into thin air", because I had some sympathy for the people on Everest, McCandless really seemed like a guy who got in over his head, and died as a result. I saw the movie too, I feel the same about that.

message 4: by Kevin (last edited Jan 31, 2009 12:39PM) (new)

Kevin I have not read the book but just watched the movie last night (1/30/09) with my wife. I think it is fine to challenge yourself as a youngster but it is just plain stupid to scarifice your life for what was essentially no good reason! I have no bone to pick with the movie if it was a true accounting of the boys' life in the wilderness. All the elements by which I judge a film work were well done. We found ourselves constantly "talking" to the kid during the story. Call your parents or at least your sister and keep them up to date on your activities. Learn to hunt and fish before you go into the wild. Even the people you met throughout your travel had learned to care deeply about you. You owe something to all these people who love and care for you and are hurt terribly by your death. What was the point? It seemed he learned too late what life should be all about. "Happiness is not real unless it is shared"
I would have been utterly destroyed if that had been one of my kids. None of us is perfect. We all need help from time to time and God only knows parenting is an enormous challenge. It's up to all of us, parents and children alike to keep trying to communicate with each other.

Greg I'm so with you on this one. I basically said the same thing in my review of this disappointing book.

Emily I just wrote a lengthy comment in response to Traci's original post. And then I deleted it.

It's impossible to justify a young person's romantic ideals.

I loved the book. And I truly hope your reviews don't deter others from giving it a shot.

Emily And P.S. ... the movie was AWFUL.

Gretchen If you can't relate to Chris' internal struggles, that's understandable. (I could, but that's beside the point). This book, in my opinion, focused more on the characters of those who did make the journeys into the wild and their eventual outcomes. Empathy for Chris seems irrelevant to the fact that this is a book rich with beautiful scenery and interesting relationship dynamics. The fact that he was foolhardy directly impacts him and is his fatal flaw. Hardly spoiled, IMO.

Mario Acevedo Have you seen the film? I thought it was awesome.

Heather(Gibby) Love your review! My mom had read and loved this book, when i read it, all I could think of was what an incrediblly selfish young man! He turned the lives of the people he ran inot upside donw, left his family behind in anguish. I don't care how much you don't agree with your families values, leaving them with no closure as to whether you are dead or alive is the most selfish act I can think of. At the time I read it my own son was the same age and therefore all my empathy went to the young man's mother.

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

His name is Chris McCandless. CHRIS.

Caitlin Thank you, Danny.

The fact that you used the wrong name for the protagonist in your review tells me all I need to know about why you didn't like this book - you clearly didn't get it.

Andrei Of course she didn't get it. Not a lot of people get it. But God bless those who do.

message 14: by Hunter (new)

Hunter It's Alex Supertramp... Not alex mccandless

message 15: by Adam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Adam I thought was I was taking crazy pills reading these reviews. Obviously, failure to name a protagonist correctly weighs heavily on someone's literary critique and opinion of a work...

This kid was really dumb and wasted the gift of life. This book isn't about living on your own terms, it's about not being an idiot and trying to learn about the wilderness instead of committing suicide by plunging forward full of ignorance. On second thought, I guess I see why this book resonates with so many people.

message 16: by Gabriel (new) - added it

Gabriel Perron what a horrible mindless review. None of you get it do you? I don't want to elaborate on this too much, Adam calm down son. Dont throw a rage fit on a blog forum

Grant Olson I don't think you read the book with the right mind set. Society has definitely have you trapped in a single minded lifestyle. I'm sorry

message 18: by Cem/Lucky (new)

Cem/Lucky oh my dear, you are absolutely right. i love this book and Chris is just like me. I love his style of writing and thinking and it's wonderful to identify with this awesome guy. I thank you for your opinion and for me it's also a hero. His reaction of leaving his parents was the right one to found himself. Me and my boyfriend Frodo want to find us also and this book inspired us so much.

message 19: by Luciana (new) - added it

Luciana Vasconcellos I don't think he wanted his life, you are the ones who says your life! missing all its beauty. you did not get it st all. by the way, don't forget he was very young! when we are that young we tend to be less forgiving and more impetuous. he will always be a hero to me, who made some unfortunate mistakes in the end, but brave and true to his heart. admire him a lot and if 20%of the population in the world had his courage and his good heart we would be living in a better world.

Vishwadeep Rout I don't think you are correct.
Death is itself a part of life.
We don't have that courage to follow our heart which Chris had. We fear death and misery.
Don't compare him with your ordinary thinking and lifestyles. He was inspired by fiction.Not by our damn society.

message 21: by Marlee (new)

Marlee Meltzer You guys who think McCandless was a selfish brat who didn't respect his family are wrong. You are looking through narrow eyes. You are unable I see that his parents were such a small factor in what drove him to venture to Alaska and live the life he did. It wasn't about his parents!! It was merely about family. It was about the adventure and the thrill of living life to it's fullest. It was about leaving this mundane society and finding a life that measured everything you knew...strength, courage, resilience, power, and determination. It was about loving the land in which was originally there, not the city in which we built. It was about surviving. It was about living. And anyone who's too dumb to see that can go fuck themselves. And yes, he died. But at least he did it. At least he didn't give up. Because if most Of you had a plan to I on such an adventure I promise you you wouldn't even make half as far as Chris did. I promise you, but most of you wouldn't ever have a plan of sorts because you're too afraid to LIVE. If any of you can recall, his last words to society were "I have had a happy life and thank The Lord and may god bless all!" He died happy, because so many people die wishing thy had done something more in their lives. Yet Chris, Chris died happy because he lived life to the extreme, he lived life to everything he hoped to live for.

Piyush Bhatt unlike all of us his perception of life was very different
he saw things the way we people possibly cant
so have some respect ...

Jordan Lenham Can not believe some of the reviews of this great book. What people don't seem to realize is that MCcandless didn't write this book and never asked it to be published. When he walked into the wild he did it for his own reasons and if he had survived, I can't imagine he would have gone around telling everyone the story's of his travels.
Why not judge the book by how the author told the story not on what an inspiring and amazing young man the supertramp was.

Jordan Lenham Can not believe some of the reviews of this great book. What people don't seem to realize is that MCcandless didn't write this book and never asked it to be published. When he walked into the wild he did it for his own reasons and if he had survived, I can't imagine he would have gone around telling everyone the story's of his travels.
Why not judge the book by how the author told the story not on what an inspiring and amazing young man the supertramp was.

message 25: by Christina (new)

Christina Kiszrg In regards to the original post:

I wish I could find a way to respect your view for Chris McCandless. However, I'm really struggling.
I read this particular book in high school.
I never really appreciated the read until the high school doors closed.
I have not seen everything that there is on this ball of life. However. I've seen quite enough to where it disgusts me in a way.
Everywhere I've turned, I find nothing but people's character and nature oppressed by a social-economic status.
Ego Vs. Eco
A lot of times I find myself looking at a society afraid to be human because we are not supposed to feel... Just work, do this, do that.
It's as if, we as human beings were to be forced into a stale and laborious agenda until death! For what?!
Chris saw this.
I don't blame him for leaving that life.
He needed to live the one life he had as Chris McCandless that he had on Earth.
No matter how "easy" his life may seemed to have been, who are you to judge his character and Chris McCandless himself?
Deemed as the ultimate trade in life, he was able to do it, simple, and that was true courage of a brave heart.

Lance Traci, I originally gave this 4 stars. I read this book more than 5 years ago...and, just like past relationships, with time, you only remember the good times. Your comments reminded me of how his actions, and inaction, affected his family and others who cared for him. I give it 2 stars because of Krakauer.

message 27: by Andres (last edited May 22, 2016 09:29PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Andres I couldn't agree more, at first I thought Chris was just a stupid young men that wanted an adventure, but then I did realized the real meaning and purpose of his journey. You should totally see the movie, maybe you will like it!

message 28: by Marco (new) - added it

Marco I really liked your review. I agree with what you wrote, Chris was a smart but ingnorant boy but then he saw that he had a purpose in his life.

message 29: by Camila (new) - added it

Camila T Traci your review points out a lot of mistakes that Chris made. This just shows that Chris's story is a kind of cautionary tale. Some of his mistakes make you feel conflicted.

message 30: by Jose (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jose Ramos Hi, when you said "Still, I know that heading into any forest - particularly one at that latitude and altitude in pursuit of adventure with (a) no food, (b) no gear, (c) no plan and (d) no backup plan is nothing short of delusional or maybe just stupid." I must admit that I think that this is what makes Chris so interesting. Now on days we dont see people who take the risk to do things like that. However , I admit that I agree with you.

Deborah It does feel harsh to say it, but you're right. He had no plan, and his death could have easily been avoided with just a map.

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