On October 18, Looking for Alaska hit the streaming service Hulu. The eight-part series is comprised of episodes that span just about an hour each and is based off the 2005 young adult novel of the same name penned by author John Green, known to many as the guy who wrote The Fault in our Stars. Looking for Alaska is the third of Green’s novels to receive a screen adaptation.
Looking for Alaska is a coming-of-age story told through teenage Miles (Charlie Plummer), who transfers to Culver Creek Academy in search of what he calls his “Great Perhaps,” a phrase he made his own after memorizing the last words of a famous poet (he memorizes a lot of last words of dead people). Almost immediately upon arriving at the school, he finds his niche in a group of friends–Alaska (Kristine Froseth), Chip, aka “The Colonel” (Denny Love), and Takumi (Jay Lee). The gang experience everything from tumultuous love and prank wars with the Weekday Warriors to social alienation and overall a lot of stuff that gets them into serious trouble. To say that’s only scratching the surface is the understatement of the year, but it’s true.
After several false alarms and announcements of a Looking for Alaska movie (and much bickering among fans about casting Alaska herself), production for a Hulu series began. While this is the third of Green’s novels to receive an adaptation, it is the only one to not make it to the big screen, despite the cult following this novel has acquired. Both The Fault in our Stars and Paper Towns were adapted into movies. Because of this, the question of how well the Looking for Alaska series will be received by fans remains, especially considering that the book-to-movie adaptation craze is not as prominent as it once was. It makes one wonder if this is why the Hulu route was taken.
While the idea to adapt the novel as a series rather than a film is different, it’s honestly kind of ingenious. Anyone who is team “book” in the age-old book vs. movie debate can agree that an eight part episode series allows for more time for the story to be developed and explored (as fully as a screen adaptation can explore the detail a novel provides.) If you do the math, it’s really an additional six hours you’re getting of Alaska’s impulsiveness, pranks, and the Eagle’s mustache. This begs the question going forward if multi-episodic series will become the norm as far as book to movie adaptations go, given the growing popularity of streaming.
Fans of the book will be pleased to see a lot of familiar scenes and quotes brought to life in an effort to keep the integrity of the story they love in tact, and successfully so. While Looking for Alaska maybe a tad dated (it takes place in 2005 with payphones) and becoming a form of what Green calls “historical fiction,” if you’re looking to laugh, cry, be inspired, and feel downright awkward in the most relatable way, then this better be at the top of your next-to-watch list. How’s that for some last words?