Nostalgia. That is what this show was for me. I was in 7th grade when I read John Green’s novel and fell in love with Alaska. Like for real, I loved her. And if it’s possible I love her even more now. For all the scenes Alaska Young (Kristen Froseth) was on screen, all I wanted to do was reach out and give her a hug. But let’s keep the stuff about why I love her for later. It is a long story (and kinda personal) and that is not the purpose of this article. Also this is not a review, I know I’m way too late for that. This post is just to examine why Looking for Alaska is the perfect example of how to adapt a popular book.
The best decision right away was to adapt the book into a limited series. When I first heard that, I was kinda disappointed as I thought a movie would bring in more viewers and make more people familiar with the source material. I know, sounds stupid but that’s what my scrawny ass believed. In hindsight, that would’ve been a really bad idea. What sets this adaptation apart from other John Green adaptations is the character development and time given to each and every side character to completely flesh them out. While both Fault in our stars and Papertowns are decent movies they are never able to figure out their characters completely. The Augustus Water from the movie is not fearless boy from book, and Margo Roth Spiegelman from the movie never represents the bad-ass she is in the book. But in Looking for Alaska every character is fully lived and realized, from the show’s lead Miles to The Colonel and even The Eagle.
Also the decision my makers to make it a limited series and not stretch it to further seasons (looking at you 13 Reasons Why), was great as it allowed for a really satisfying ending. The show really take it’s time with every bit and then ends each if them them brilliantly. It is a slow-burn, but I promise will suck you in and shatter you by the end of it. I have read the book around three-four times, so I didn’t think it was possible to feel this emotional watching those same event happen. But trust me, the cried every time a emotional scene happened, that’s how good the execution of the show is.
The show has been adapted fairly faithfully and the characters and settings are very authentic to the book. And it is one the rare occurrences, where I agree with the show every time they deviated from the book. Like the prank in last episode (no spoilers) was a brilliant idea to add to the story. Also, some characters from the book have been given extra time in the show to flesh them into more complete dynamic people, like say Dr, Hyde or Takumi, which makes the show even more compelling. And the decision to give six episodes to the “Before” part of the story and two episodes to the “After” part of the story, instead of the almost equal divide in the book, really paid off in my opinion.
I was also really surprised by the quality of the show. It is really well written and shot. The cinematography is gorgeous and the direction is really good. Also, kudos to the casting department, the cast in the show is perfect. Each actor exactly embodies the characters as I imagined them to be when I read the book. Charlie Plummer and Kristine Froseth are perfectly paired, they look beautiful and yet heartbreaking together. Special mention to Denny Love, that dude really was The Colonel and in my opinion very the the breakout in this cast. Jay Lee, Sofia Vassilieva, Landry Bender. Uriah Shelton, Jordan Connor all do justice to their roles and deliver worthy performances. So if you’re stuck home and really bored during this quarantine/lockdown just go and check out this amazing show. This show deserves to be watched.
In conclusion all I wanna say is – I love you Alaska, and I will always keep looking for you.