This month, Hulu launched a new promo on social media platforms: $1.99 streaming for college students. I was eager to take advantage of this deal and fell in love with a beautifully crafted mini-series, “Looking for Alaska.”
“Looking for Alaska” was John Green’s 2005 novel and first foray into the world of young-adult literature. While the novel won the prestigious Michael L. Printz Award, one of the greatest achievements for an author within the genre of young-adult literature, Green’s later works such as “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Turtles All the Way Down” have overshadowed it in terms of popularity.
In an attempt to bring Green’s mastery to a wider audience, the rights to “Looking for Alaska” were initially sent to Josh Schwartz, a writer employed by the film studio Paramount Pictures. However, lack of interest from the studio led to the film’s indefinite postponement.
Things began looking up after Green’s later novels began to reach a wider audience, and commercially successful film adaptations of two of his novels (“The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns”) were made. Green’s earliest novel became much more widely read, and hope for the long-awaited “Looking for Alaska” adaptation began to resurface among the most devoted of Green’s fans.
Unfortunately, fans’ hopes weren’t enough to convince studios to take on the project. As the rights for the novel spent the next few years bouncing from studio to studio, the future for the novel seemed bleak.
That all changed, however, when Schwartz, who originally bought the rights to the novel, decided that a miniseries would better convey the story of “Looking for Alaska” than a film. When he entered into a contract with Hulu, he finally wrote an adaptation of the novel and, through eight hour-long episodes, was able to convey the story in arguably the most faithful adaptation of not only a John Green novel, but of any novel.
The 2019 show, like the novel, delves into topics such as a search for meaning in life, grief, loneliness and hope. While the novel’s storyline centered around only a few characters — Miles, Alaska and ‘The Colonel’ — the mini-series augmented that by incorporating each of the novel’s supporting characters into the same themes, not detracting from but expanding on the original story.
This expansion of Green’s initial story helps make Schwartz’s writing in the show stand, evidenced by how well he is able to bring out every single emotion one would have had while reading alone. The final two episodes in particular bring out the most heart-wrenching and emotional scenes, which include a particularly devastating event and how it affects each character, both showcased in even more depth than in the novel.
Along with the writing, which is a phenomenal aspect of “Looking for Alaska,” an unquestionable part of its charm is in the actors, who brilliantly portray each of the characters. For instance, John Green himself, in a video on his YouTube channel, said that Christopher Plummer (Miles) and Kristine Forseth (Alaska) were perfect representations of who he visualized when originally writing the novel.
So, if you are in the mood for an uplifting show that manages to make you fall in love with every character over the course of only eight episodes, then I implore you to find “Looking for Alaska” on Hulu and watch it.