Looking for a reason to like Alaska
Like every other girl whose favorite pastime in middle school was reading, I was insanely into “The Fault in Our Stars.” Sadly, I am not very familiar with John Green’s “Looking for Alaska,” but I was still excited to watch the new series because of my past ties to “The Fault in Our Stars” and its author’s YouTube channels: “Vlogbrothers” and “CrashCourse.” Also, a lot of people were talking about it, so to me, that showed the great weight the book had on everyone around me.
Published on March 3, 2005, “Looking for Alaska” follows loner teenager Miles, on his journey to Culver Creek Academy, and memorizing a dead guy’s last words. He makes several friends, Chip “The Colonel,” Takumi, and, of course, a girl by the name of Alaska. He searches for something called his “Great Perhaps,” after the last words of French poet Francois Rabelais.
The show starts off with a teenage boy named Miles telling you that he has always been fascinated by last words, hence the title of the first episode being “Famous Last Words.”
It also has the imagery of a car accident and plays Miles’ narrating that he wanted to find the “Great Perhaps” from his favorite set of last words before he died. I immediately said to myself, “Hello? Why is this happening? Why does the main character of the series die at the literal beginning of the show before I can even sympathize with him?”
Well, I can tell you, afterwards, they did a relatively okay job at making you relate to Miles Halter. In the Hulu series, they make him out to be this hermit kid that has no friends (even if in the first part of the book that I skimmed through, he does), and the one quirk he has that sets him apart is his love for the quotes of the dead, especially when he finally moves to Culver Creek and makes friends.
In my own opinion, the timeframing of the first episode was strange, particularly for someone like me who had absolutely zero context going in except for one of the author’s previous works and the connection of cigarette metaphors between “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Looking for Alaska.” I was confused about how many days had actually passed between Miles moving in and the end of the episode.
Every scene change felt like it was separated, the only connection being the character’s topics of conversation. I am not sure about how accurate the skipping around is to the book, but it was kind of confusing.
After seeing the general premise of this book and now TV mini-series, I had to go experience the teenage drama that comes with a lot of smoking, drinking, and… yeah. This is your warning if you are sensitive to those topics to not watch or read it.
One thing is for certain, though. For me, and maybe for me only, Alaska is not a relatable character, and the fact that she is supposed to be one of the main characters makes me stop and think. Another thing I just did not understand about Alaska was her understanding of simple metaphors.
When our protagonist Miles finally gets a chance to sit down and spend time alone with the girl he’s fawning over, she gives him a not-so-difficult “puzzle” of a metaphor to solve. She pulls out “The General in his Labyrinth” by Gabriel García Márquez and asks Miles, “Is the labyrinth living or dying?”
As an English major, and with her being a so-called and very evidently intelligent girl, I figured she would know that the labyrinth was living and that the only escape was death. Though, she may already know the answer and is just trying to give Miles an easy-in to her lovelife, as the prize is him getting laid. I had such a rollercoaster of emotions trying to bring myself to like her (mainly for her clothes) or hate her, so I have decided to simply say she is “okay.”
On the contrary, two things I really enjoyed during my viewing experience were the soundtrack and the writing. The soundtrack contains covers of hits from the early 2000s, with some nods to 50 Cent and Gorillaz that were both heavily appreciated. Needless to say, I was jamming during the times where nothing was being said, and I was most definitely paying attention to what the characters were saying. The way they spoke was surprisingly relatable, and the more so-called “intellectual” vocabulary they used was easy to understand and pick back up into the conversation. So, good job, Hulu. You wrote a group of high school misfits who don’t sound absolutely dumb.
Overall, the show is very solid. If you like teen drama and romance, you will definitely enjoy its eight episodes at the moment. Check it out on Hulu, especially if you have the eight hours to kill.