Book vs adaptation: Looking for Alaska

I think a lot of us bookworms can agree on this: one of your favourite books getting adapted into a movie/series/something else is one of the most beautiful yet terrifying feelings ever. It’s truly magical to see a story you love come to life, but what if it gets ruined? Of course, the movie-world is different from the book-world but who do they think they are?! and therefore changes must be made. Bookworms will probably say that the book is better, while humans non-readers often side with the movie. But what about a bookaddict who absolutely adores movies and series?

Welcome to a new series on my blog in which I will analyse a book and its adaptation (without any spoilers, of course)! This is something I’ve been wanting to start for a while now, since I basically got into reading because of me being a movie-freak (long story for another time). I love both mediums, so why not compare them story by story? Be sure to leave some suggestions for this series in the comments! I hope you’re as excited as I am!

And I wouldn’t be Alissa if the first book/adaptation we were gonna talk about wasn’t my all-time favourite book: Looking for Alaska by John Green, adapted by Hulu!


Before I start discussing and comparing everything, it may be nice to know what Looking for Alaska is actually about! I do have a post on my experience with the book, so if you’re interested in that, you can click here!

Looking for Alaska follows Miles Halter, who’s soon going to a boarding school named Culver Creek. Hoping to escape his boring, friendless life, he goes to seek a great perhaps (a reference to his favourite last words). He quickly infiltrates in his roommate’s friendgroup, which includes mysterious Alaska Young. Just when Miles thinks he’s found what he was looking for, everything that came together falls apart.

There are truly no words to describe this book in my opinion. I’ve tried countless times but never does it capture what this story actually means to me. Now, let’s begin!


The Looking for Alaska series was released in October 2019 but I didn’t watch it until April 2020 because I was pretty much terrified. I had watched the trailer a million times and was already crying over edits of the show but I just didn’t have the courage to actually watch it. On April 11, though, I decided that I was a strong woman and was gonna cry myself through it. And let me tell you: I did just that.

I haven’t rewatched the show since because I watch edits on Youtube about daily… but past me already knew she wanted to start a blog back then and took notes! Are the notes vague, confusing and do they sound like they were written in the middle of a mental breakdown? …No comment

Casting

I must say that when I first saw the casting I was like…wtf??? They just weren’t what I expected at all and definitely not what I imagined my loves as. This made me especially scared to watch the series because I couldn’t handle having my image of Looking for Alaska changed forever.

It definitely got some time to get used to these faces, especially Pudge (Miles) as Charlie Plummer, but oh lord did I fell in love. Kristine Froseth was the perfect Alaska in my opinion! Her acting, vibe and looks ended up being what Alaska deserved. Denny Love, who I also didn’t really like as the Colonel (Chip) in the beginning, definitely surprised me too. He just really brought him to life like he, again, deserved!

Jay Lee as Takumi was also great, Timothy Simons gave us the perfect Eagle (Mr. Starnes) and other side characters ended up being amazing too (Landry Bender was such a good Sara!).

Dynamic between the characters

OMG. For me, the most important thing about Looking for Alaska is the dynamic between the characters. The show did such a great job at showing us the bonding between them. For some reason I also thought like less-mainstream characters like Takumi and Lara were portrayed better than in the book. In the show Lara at least has some backbone which I STAN!

Pudge, Alaska and the Colonel really put a smile on my face (+ tears, of course) because of how they were bonding. Their friendship is heartwarming and it really splattered from the screen. But the thing that I thought was especially better than in the book was Sara and the Colonel together. In the book I really didn’t understand why they were together (didn’t sympathize for Sara either) and the series did an EXCELLENT job at showing that.

Beautiful scenes

They stayed so true to the story, which I really appreciated. Some of my highlights were: the announcement scene (when I’m sad and want to cry, I secretly watch this…but you don’t know that!!), speaker day (ICONIC), a scene on a bus (I don’t know what this means but…it’s a really good scene I guess?), and some of the last scenes.

I’ve also written that everything in the first four episodes was like a dream come true, which I still remember thinking. However…

Episode 5

I really didn’t like episode 5. I vaguely remember why, but can’t say it because I don’t wanna spoil anything.

My favourite scene from the book

Two days before. The scene that makes me both laugh and cry and I feel like they really did do a good job at that specific scene, but the context just didn’t feel right. In the book this is the ultimate bonding between the characters but in the series everything was a mess and then they were sort of bonding? I don’t know, it didn’t have the same power for me.

Also, apparently this is also the case with one day before, but I don’t really remember that…

Changes

In episode six there was some stuff with Takumi and…just no. In episode eight Pudge makes a decision that literally had me SCREAMING. Like why?!?! They also left out a very important Takumi scene for me and I’m so sad about that, but I do understand why they did that.

In the last episode there was a change – more like an addition, actually – that I really liked! This had to do with Takumi too, so let’s say it kinda made up for the bad change.

Some highlights from my notes

Can we appreciate me being an unstable fangirl for a second? Here are some of the gems I found in my notes:

Very very emotional I am dead inside – h e l p –
I’m crying A LOT my tissuebox is literally empty
It’s the fact that I’m saying all the iconic lines along with them for me…
WHY AREN’T THEY RAPPING?!?!?
I will repeat this till I’m dead: WRONG! CONTEXT! FOR! THIS! SCENE! cries

Conclusion

There’s the good and there’s the bad, of course, but looking back at this show really makes me happy. I think it’s one of the best adaptations I’ve ever watched, despite some things I didn’t like. Maybe it’s because the story is just so dear to me but I feel like Hulu did a great job on this. I can’t wait to finally rewatch this show. Writing this blogpost made me realise how much I love it and how I don’t remember every little detail…WHICH I WANT TO!

But…I think we all know that nothing can outgrow my love for Looking for Alaska. It’s been about two years(?) since I read it for the first time and I will just never get over it/tired of it. I’m very happy about this adaptation, but will always prefer the book by John Green!


And that’s all I have to say! Now you have time to watch/read Looking for Alaska so, ehm, GO!

I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading this (chaotic) blogpost! I had a lot of fun writing it and hope you actually understood what I was saying! Like I said in the beginning of the post, leave some recommendations below! And if you’ve read or watched Looking for Alaska already, be sure to reach out to me to discuss!

Now, what is your favourite book to movie/series adaptation?

Love,
Alissa

2 thoughts on “Book vs adaptation: Looking for Alaska

  1. ahh!! it’s so terrifying when some of your favourite books are adapted into tv shows/movies!! i can totally relate to this wonderful post!! there have been instances when my favourite scenes have been cut off, and the characters have been completely different than what i visualised!! but there have also been movies where all my favourite lines are there, and the character dynamics are amazing!! great post ❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. IKR?! I was absolutely terrified indeed, haha! And aawh, I’m glad you liked it, thank you so much!! I hate it when favourite scenes are cut off though, like just whyy, haha! Sometimes actors can take a bit to get used to, but other times I straight up question why they picked someone for that character…but yes, luckily there are some amazing ones out there too! Character dynamics are the best thing to see come to life! Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

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