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Into the Wild by John Krakauer

Review by Samar

into the wild book cover

Till date, there has always been a select amount of extremists looking for the true meaning of

life. Obviously, the meaning of life differs depending on the person searching for an answer.

There aren’t a lot of stories about people going to extremes to find their version of life’s truth. I

myself hadn’t heard of anyone who went to an extreme to find the meaning of life until I read

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. The book illustrates the life of the protagonist, Christopher

McCandless, a man who embarked on a journey through the Alaskan wilderness to find the

truth of life. His dangerous journey ended up taking his life, but the lessons and experiences he

had along the way will last forever.

I read this book as a part of the AP Language curriculum at my school. Initially, I thought the

book was going to be boring as it was part of the class, but I was wrong. This book was very

interesting especially since it is based on a true story. It had a lot of twists and turns and the

amount of characters in this book is phenomenal. The character development of McCandless

and the mystery behind his reasoning of the dangerous journey really kept the book fresh. The

book constantly switches between the author’s point of view and the point of view of

McCandless, so it was interesting to read about how the author felt about McCandless’s actions

opposed to why McCandless actually did what he did.

My favorite character in the book was Ronald Franz. Franz was an 81 year-old man whom

McCandless met on his journey. He is a very kind and gentle old man who shared much of his

life experiences and wisdom with McCandless. He loved the way McCandless felt about

independence so much that he wanted to adopt McCandless as his sole grandon. Franz lived a

lonely life and talking with McCandless made him want to adopt McCandless and allow him to

carry on the Franz family name. Franz felt like McCandless would be a large part of his life as

he has no other family or friends.

For this book, I did not have a least favorite character. The book didn’t really have an antagonist

at all. The only antagonist in the book wasn’t a person, it was in fact McCandless himself. His

obsession with finding life’s purpose and his extreme way of thinking was the only reason he

ended up dying. There was no specific reason that set McCandless up for failure, it was himself.

McCandless purposely underprepared for the harsh Alaskan wilderness, knowing even the most

experienced of hitchhikers and campers train for months before embarking in Alaska.

McCandless claimed to undeprepare so he could really embrace the challenges the wilderness

had to offer him, and that in doing so, his life’s purpose would become clear and fulfilled.

Ultimately, McCandless’s foolish decision and way of thinking proved to be detrimental to his

own life.

In conclusion, Into the Wild was a great eye-opening book that really embraced the idea of

transcendentalism. It gives a real life example of a man going to extremes to find the true

meaning of life. Since it never got boring and taught a few life lessons, I would rate this book a ⅘ stars. I highly recommend this book to any teen who is looking for a quick yet meaningful read.

Check out Into the Wild from the Newport Beach Public Library.

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