rating: 4 of 5 stars
I got this book for Christmas (sort of) and ended up reading it over break. I really enjoyed this book. I absolutely love the movie - it is one of my all-time favorites. And after reading the book, I am impressed with how well the movie did in capturing Chris McCandless's spirit, as well as Krakauer's opinion about McCandless.
I do not think McCandless was a raving nut. I think he was a young guy full of hubris and ideals and did what very few of us end up doing - living out his dream. Unfortunately, due to a series of events that occurred (some that are conjectured, some that are fact), McCandless never made it back from "the wild" and perished. What is truly sad about his story is that it appears that he had tried to leave his solo adventure, and return to the land of other living human beings, because he had realized, "Happiness Only Real When Shared". And that to me is the true tragedy of his story - he never got a chance to live out what he had learned in the wilderness.
The other thing that struck me was how many people ended up losing their faith in God once he died. Being a believer, and having experienced loss both personally and with friends, I cannot imagine trying to deal with death without a reliance on God. And it struck me that people seem to deal with loss of a loved one (in this case those that knew McCandless) in one of either way - it either drives you away from God or it draws you closer to Him.
I share some of McCandless's views on nature and the effect that it's power and beauty have upon the soul. I also understood his need to go off on his own - yet that a need existed within him that ultimately drove him back to people. It is a shame that such a passionate, amiable young guy passed away before he even began to enter the prime of his life. But he got to live an adventure that few of us would even dare to dream of, and because of that, I do not view his story as one of tragedy, but melancholy - joy that he got to experience a life to the full and sadness that it was cut so short.
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