Review: Into the Wild

By Caleb R.

Into the Wild is a biography of Chris McCandless, who walked and died alone in the Alaskan wilderness in 1992.  He was totally unprepared.

I enjoyed this book.  It was a good reminder that nature is nothing to mess around with.  Chris McCandless illustrated this beautifully.  Not only did he sever all connections with the outside world, but he underestimated the power of nature.

Nature is a wonderful thing.  It can totally depend on itself without any outside help.  In fact, when we do intervene, we usually screw it up.

I was really impressed by the techniques used by the author to get the story and theme across to the reader.  One technique the author used was comparing his life with that of McCandless, which was very similar.  I thought this technique was very fitting for the book because it showed what an expert (Krakauer) would do, and what an amateur (McCandless) would do.  Usually, Krakauer was better off.

Another technique I loved was the way the author started the chapters.  At the top of each chapter, before any text, was a passage.  These passages were usually from the works of Henry David Thoreau, Jack London or some other naturalist writer.  The point of the passage was to set the mood, give the reader a preview of what was to come.  If you couldn’t get through the passage, then the book wasn’t for you.

The other technique that Krakauer used that I liked was the letters from McCandless to the outside world.  Krakauer copied the letter, then commented on what it was about and what it meant.  The letter really gave the sense of being in McCandless’ head.

Others may disagree, but this book was about finding yourself.  McCandless had to go to the middle of the Alaskan wild to find himself and cut all links with humans.  Whenever he met a new person, he shut them out if they tried to get close, to understand.

You have to be alone to find yourself, at least according to McCandless.  Sometimes, it’s easier to find what you’re looking for if you stop looking.

Unfortunately for McCandless, he kept looking.

The other theme of this book was family.  Though you can run away from your family, you never truly get away.  Family is like that; it sticks with you no matter where you go.

McCandless ran away, isolating himself from his family.  But no matter what he did, his family just wanted to see him, to hear from him, to know that he was safe.

Into the Wild was different from other survival stories.  Usually, the person got lost on a hike or crashed a plane, but McCandless tried to get lost.  This goes against the meaning of survival; purposefully inflicting a situation on yourself where you could die seems mad.

I think what McCandless wanted was a simpler life, where all he had to do was survive and didn’t have to worry about anything else.  He wanted to get to the very base of human instinct.  Only then could he find what he was looking for.

In some ways, McCandless was a martyr of sorts.  He didn’t die for a cause of the people, but of himself.  He wanted to experience life to the most extreme, to be one with the land.

Some people called this arrogance and cockiness, but I consider it a longing for something more than humans could provide, something simple and untainted.

He was so in love with this romantic adventure that it didn’t bother him to stay there forever.

Here it goes, my defense of Into the Wild as an A-list book.  This book is definitely an A-list book.  It managed to tell a story of survival, family ruin, nature’s pull over man, and still inform the reader of what not to do.

What really made this book stand out for me was the fact that it was real.  It wasn’t just some made-up piece of an author’s mind; it was a true-life survival tale…or lack of it for that matter.

Krakauer stayed true to the story’s roots and even examined them back to the trunk.  This style brought new things to the table that could only have been if the story was true.

I guess what I’m getting at is summed up in one word.


Rating:  8/10.

Though the book was good, it had the unfortunate curse of having a main character that was extremely aggravating to read about.  Despite the curse, this book was informative and enjoyable, hence the eight.


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