Into the Wild: A stirring story of adventure and loss

Vivian Oksenhendler, Staff Writer

If literature had its own seven wonders, the story of Chris McCandless would be one of them. Into the Wild, a novel written by Jon Krakauer, is an expansion of his article titled “Death of an Innocent,” published in a newspaper in 1993. In the article, and later in the novel, Krakauer analyzes the adventures of Chris McCandless, which resulted in his tragic death. Although there is still much to be curious about when it comes to McCandless’ expedition into the wild, the novel does an exemplary job of telling his story.

Although the novel is not an easy read due to its structure and the material it discusses, it is sincere, heartfelt, and well-written. The book is unique, and does not fit into a certain type of genre due to its writing style. Krakauer incorporates interviews throughout the book, and though the audience already knows upsetting facts about Chris McCandless, the interviewees do not have the same knowledge, thus giving the book an eerie and ominous feeling. The book’s style is composed of several accounts that are only connected through their relation to McCandless and his life. Although this is an unusual approach, it works awfully well for this book. It not only shows the different perspectives that audiences are dying to see, but it also forces the audience to piece together the puzzle of the story of Chris McCandless.

The book is certainly not for the faint of heart. It is wrenching, disappointing, and rather than leaving the reader satisfied with McCandless’ story, it instead makes the reader upset at the trials he faced. The novel highlights what may happen when one decides to challenge humanity and stay true to one’s internal calling to nature. Additionally, the novel is highly evocative of various emotions and keeps the reader engaged throughout. The heartfelt interviews from his parents included in the book and the ignorance of the people that McCandless crossed in his path are extremely upsetting. The book is sincere and heartfelt, detailing McCandless’s life in a way that generates sympathy from the reader.

Furthermore, what makes this book work so strong is that it was written by Jon Krakauer. His passion for the story made it what it was and why it was so well-received by audiences. There is a sincere personal connection between the author and this mystery, whether it be genuine curiosity, the similarities between himself and McCandless (that Krakauer mentions later in the book), or his pity for McCandless. What’s even more impressive is that this connection shines through, taking some attention away from the actual story. Not only does the story of a rich white kid deciding to travel the Yukon with absolutely no money, connections, experience, or protection turn heads, but Krakauer’s striking similarities to these events is extremely surprising. But, despite his similarity to McCandless, Krakauer eventually decided to take a different path in his life. This ultimately provokes the question: what would the story of Chris McCandless be like if he had decided to stop?

This book is an amazing, invigorating read that engages the reader and leaves them thinking about McCandless’s story. I would recommend going into this book with more knowledge about the events of Chris McCandless’ life and the structure of the story in order to avoid being blindsided. Overall, Into the Wild is a phenomenal book and a great read to start off 2023.