It took 14 years, and two movies of later novels in the interim, for John Green’s debut novel, Looking for Alaska to be filmed. Now, the coming of age tale of grief, growth, and belonging is getting a highly anticipated release as an 8-episode limited series from Hulu Originals. The series will launch with all episodes available on October 18.
Looking for Alaska tells the story of Miles, a young man struggling with high school and finding a place to belong who transfers to a boarding school for a fresh start. There he finally develops lasting friendships and falls for titular Alaska. However, a sudden tragedy will force the group to deal with unexpected grief and the pains of growing up.
The Hulu series will bring together several producers and writers with a heavy hand in teen entertainment. Led by creator/writer Josh Schwartz (Runaways, Chuck, Gossip Girl) and fellow producer Stephanie Savage (Runaways, Gossip Girl, The Carrie Diaries). Looking for Alaska stars Charlie Plummer (Granite Falls) as Miles and Kristine Froseth (The Society) as Alaska. As well as Denny Love (Empire) as Chip “Colonel” Martin and Jay Lee (American Vandal) as Tukami, making up their circle of friends. Also, the series co-stars Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us), Timothy Simons (Veep), Sofia Vassilieva (Medium), Uriah Shelton (Girl Meets World), and Jordan Connor (Riverdale).
Author John Green has a pretty hard and fast YA following. Multiple successful novels followed Alaska, including the New York Times best-selling The Fault in Our Stars, which was made into a hit film in 2014. However, his first novel is often considered to be the most personal, coming largely from his own teenage experiences with boarding school, friendships, and tragedy. The book won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association (and later topped the ALA’s list for most-challenged books, due to its explicit language and sexuality).
The book has been criticized in some corners by its portrayal of Alaska as a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” trope. It will be interesting to see if Hulu fleshes out more of Alaska’s story to have equal weight and agency outside of Miles’ viewpoint on her. Despite some criticism, the novel made a big impression with the compassion and understanding through with Green explored real coming of age issues. The story takes on friendship and romance, yes, but also tackles sudden loss, grief, guilt, and the complicated tangle of these emotions with each other. Besides, it shows the spectrum of relationships between teenagers and adult figures, exploring the powerful impact a positive mentor can have. Trailers and teasers for the series include the character of Dr. Hyde (Ron Cephas Jones), theology professor who challenges the students to question life’s challenges and meaning in tragedy.
In the end, the story behind Looking for Alaska is one of understanding, forgiveness, and hope, and how life’s challenges can force growth and a new, more mature perspective on life. Hulu’s new series looks to capture this energy and ask how we not only process loss and grief but how we learn to accept and forgive ourselves. And by developing the novel into an 8-episode series, fans can anticipate a less abbreviated adaption, hopefully allowing the story to explore the complicated issues that Green dealt with in his novel.
How to watch Looking for Alaska
- $7.99/month with limited commercials
- $17.99/month commercial free
Watch Hulu through Hulu.com online, as well as apps for Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire, Xbox, and mobile devices.