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Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

February 2, 2018

Using up precious ticks of the clock, none of them imagined that a horrible ordeal was drawing nigh. None of them suspected that by the end of the long day every minute would matter.

It’s spring on Mt Everest in 1996, and multiple teams are preparing for the long ascent to the top of the world. Little do they know, weak snow layers and building monsoons may cause the mountain’s deadliest season ever. As Jon Krakauer’s team, led by Rob Hall, plods up the mountain, they must encounter some of the most vicious weather on the planet, while fighting for their lives. Soon it is apparent that the six different teams need rescue— it’s a matter of life and death in the fight to get down alive. Time is running out for the brave team.

Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction masterpiece captures the harrowing tale of the perils at high altitude; this roller coaster ride sucks you in until you have finished. Krakauer used strong first and third person narratives, accompanied by strong diction and a journalistic style of writing that brought me right into the story and really portrayed the action. The perspectives swapped depending on whether Krakauer was experiencing it himself or explaining how certain things came to be. I loved how he interviewed many sources to bring in multiple perspectives on how events really took place. It was interesting to try to puzzle out how so many people made multiple mistakes leading to one of the most horrific mountain disasters of all time. Readers follow Krakauer the whole time, so it feels almost like accompanying Krakauer and interviewing people while discovering more and more about how they came to Everest and what they planed to do, which I thought was creative on Krakauer’s part.

When Krakauer writes he often dives off into history, such as how the first people climbed the mountain and how unfairly the Sherpas were and are treated. I personally thought that these short paragraphs were effective because they helped me understand some of the background information when I was reading. If readers knew nothing about mountains or elevation, they could still follow the main plot of the book, all due to the chapters designated for explaining background. Also if there is ever a word in a different language or a mountaineering term, Krakauer uses an indicator and explains the meaning or definition of the term below, therefore making the premise and details of the book completely understandable and easy to follow.

If you have always dreamed of mountains and the world surrounding them, this is a great book for you: it passes on intriguing ideas about how we can learn from mistakes people made before us and cautions readers to always pay attention to nature’s signs. Krakauer’s book is crafted so well that it was a national bestseller that captivated thousands of readers. If you are into suspense, action, and adventure, this is a book for you—especially if you have read other mountain books before. It inspired me in multiple ways, and I hope it will do the same for you.

Sawyer

Anchor Books, 333 pages


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