Looking for Alaska Hulu review

Looking for Alaska Hulu review

Bhoomi Sharma, Photography Editor

The adaptation of John Green’s first novel, ‘Looking for Alaska’, opens with an accident: a car crashing into a truck at high speed and then spinning in the air in slow motion on a dark, rainy night. It was released on Hulu as a mini-series on Oct. 18. The adaptation has eight episodes and spans the junior year of Miles ‘Pudge’ Halter, the main protagonist, and was directed by Josh Schwartz. 


This isn’t the first time Schwartz has tried to make a film or screen adaptation for ‘Looking for Alaska’. The novel was released in 2005, and since then, there have been several rewrites of the script for a movie of ‘Looking for Alaska,’ but there wasn’t an official announcement made until early last year. It was decided that the adaptation would be a mini-series, allowing for more time with the characters and more natural build up. After watching the mini-series, I think it definitely seems like the right choice for telling this story. The characters are all given their own back stories, going further into detail than the book and letting viewers form a deeper bond with the characters. While all the narration in the show is by Miles ‘Pudge’ Halter, we often cut away from him, switching to the different perspectives of Chip ‘the Colonel’ Martin and Alaska Young. 


The show follows the format of the book, splitting the story into the before and after of the car accident.. There are six episodes for the ‘before’ and two for the ‘after’. The cinematography is wonderful, and although it takes place in the early 2000’s, there isn’t much to indicate the time period besides the technology and the soundtrack. The soundtrack for “Looking for Alaska” features many songs of the 2000’s, with gems like Kelis’ “Milkshake,” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” It helps the show take you on an emotional rollercoaster.


Most of the story takes place in a boarding school in Alabama, named Culver Creek. At first, it seems to be just the adventures of a bunch of rag-tag scholarship students, stuck in a prank war with a group of trust fund kids they dubbed the ‘Weekday Warriors.’ In the adaptation, we follow Alaska Young as she falls into a downward spiral of depression and Mile ‘Pudge’ Halter into love with her mysteries. And the show closes with the Colonel and Miles standing at the very spot on the road the show started, bringing us full circle, and giving both the characters and the viewers the closure that is so desperately needed. 


What makes John Green’s books, so special are the philosophical conclusions he comes to in the end and the captivating relationships between the characters. While I was upset at first that the adaptation skipped some of my favourite lines from the book, they did a good job of including others. They kept the most unique part of all the characters, and they followed the book’s intended theme. They showcased Alaska Young’s furious feminism, the Colonel’s anger, Takumi’s sensibility and Miles’ fumbling naivety, and none of them are too romanticized. John Green mentioned in a video he put out on his YouTube channel ‘vlogbrothers’, “Of course I saw myself in Miles. And in other characters too. Alaska’s self destructive tendencies were mine, the Colonel’s fits of rage were mine.” They all come straight from the author, and that’s what makes them so real.


One or the larger critiques of Green’s work was that the teenagers seemed too intelligent, too larger than life. But that’s why his stories are interesting at all. The characters are  burdened with their own pasts and must learn to deal with them on their own. And besides Kristine Froseth, the actress who plays ‘Alaska’, a character meant to be beautiful in Miles’ eyes, none of the others necessarily look like they walked out of a fashion magazine. Other than the standard movie magic, they all look appropriately young. 


Unlike previous adaptations where he was heavily-involved, John Green let Schrwatz make most of the decisions. In a video that he put out earlier this year, the author also talked about letting his characters go, allowing them to move on from the book he wrote all those years ago. He said, “It’s their story now, and I can’t wait to see how they tell it.”