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“Looking for Alaska,” adapted from book to screen

Four stars out of five

As summer drew to a close, Miles Halter packed up his clothes into a trunk spackled with Ronald Regan stickers. He locked it and said goodbye to his home in Orlando and was off to, in reference to the last words of poet Francois Rabelais, “seek a great perhaps.”

Miles, the main character of the new Hulu show, “Looking For Alaska,” studies people’s last words, the words of Rabelais being particularly impactful to him. Miles seeks to leave the comfort of melancholic Orlando, Florida and find his great life adventure.

He stuffed his trunk into the back of his parent’s car and began the drive to Culver Creek Preparatory School in Alabama, his father’s high school alma mater. As he arrived at the school, he met a rag-tag group of friends and began to seek his “great perhaps.

Yes, this sounds like every stereotypical coming of age story. But “Looking for Alaska” is a diverse, witty, relatable, and at the same time tragic melodrama that emulates the true essence of your high school years.

The book “Looking for Alaska,” written by John Greene, was released in March of 2005. Director Josh Schwartz adapted the 2006 Michael L. Printz award-winning book into a limited television series on Hulu. Schwartz is best known for his work as the creator of “The O.C.” and his work on “Gossip Girl.

Schwartz has once again adapted a television show that relates to teens and adults alike, as his previous work did. Greene gained popularity after he wrote “The Fault in our Stars” as a book that was later adapted into a movie. His work has captivated young audiences and tackled real-life issues in a witty and relatable way, in addition to discussing important issues such as mental illness, terminal illness, death and adventure throughout his books.

I was a young teenager when the first movie based on Green’s books was released. After seeing the film “The Fault in our Stars,” I immediately began reading the rest of his books. “Looking for Alaska” was easily my favorite. It had a sense of adventure, love and heartbreak that pulled me into every page.  

The show was no different. Because I had read the book, I knew what was going to happen throughout the show, but I was still drawn to the characters and the acting, as well as the literary world that was brought to life on screen.

In a world saturated with TV high school dramas, “Looking for Alaska” does not necessarily stand out as exceptional, but rather blends into and fits well with shows like “The O.C.” and “One Tree Hill.” It would be outshined and even intimidated by the glitz of “Gossip Girl” or the mystery of “Riverdale.”

Though the show brings back nostalgic memories of high school, it can be predictable and melancholy at times, but kudos to Schwartz for casting a diverse group of actors. Alaska Young is a young woman modeled in the wake of third-wave feminism. She is intelligent and flirty all while decreeing that she would shatter the patriarchy in a second. Chip, “The Colonel,” Martin was a white character in the book but was played by Denny Love in the show; making The Colonel an African American opens up a racial dynamic and adds layers of complexity to the struggles between groups on the Culver Creek Campus.

Though this show blends in with its competitors, it is still worth watching. The complex characters and their goal of seeking a great perhaps is engaging and interesting and it is relatable, nostalgic, heartbreaking and a great love story – all at the same time.

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