On May 10, 1996, Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mount Everest, 29,028 feet above sea level. The novel that I chose to read titled “Into Thin Air” is a non-fiction novel about the author, Jon Krakauer, climbing Mount Everest and his experience with the 1996 Everest disaster.
The novel begins in the middle of the story in May of 1996 at the summit of Everest where Jon Krakauer is describing the top of the mountain and the rough journey to the summit. He mentions that he was taking photos and something caught his attention. “To the south. where the sky had been perfectly clear just an hour earlier, a blanket of clouds now hid Pumori, Ama Dablam, and the other lesser peaks surrounding Everest.” (Krakauer 43) foreshadowing the disaster that is later to occur. I found that this method of starting the novel near the climax of the story is very effective as it hooks the reader and right from the start and allows the reader to inference what is about to occur for the rest of the story. This style of starting the story from the middle or end is used often and reminded me of other books I’ve read such as, Life of Pi, which starts the novel from the end of the story.
While reading, I found myself inferring future events that could occur very soon and later on in the story, the quote I stated earlier shows this. Another example of this is in chapter 2 when Krakauer is talking about his childhood of climbing and mentions “Secretly I dreamed of ascending Everest myself one day; for more than a decade it remained a burning ambition.” (Krakauer 68). From this I inferred that soon, Krakauer will be given the chance to climb Everest, which occurs later in chapter 2 when he gets an offer for a magazine named Outside, and inferred that later on in the story, Krakauer will venture to the summit where the situation is about to climax, which is only possible to inference due to how Krakauer started the novel, which again, shows the efficiency of starting like that.
In some parts of the story, I noticed some text foreshadowed that a possible problem may occur later on. When reading these parts of the story I asked my self questions about what is to come or if a problem could occur. For example in chapter 3 Krakauer talks about climbing with a guide and says that he has only climbed with trusted friends as you need to have confidence in your partners. Krakauer then says “But trust in one’s partners is a luxury denied those who sign on as clients on a guided ascent; one must put one’s faith in the guide instead.” (Krakauer 105). Right away, I saw a problem with this as climbing with a bunch of random people all putting their trust into one person rather than each other didn’t sound safe at all. I started to ask questions like “What if one climber is weaker than the others?” “Can they really be trusted?” “How can someone trust a random person with their lives?” “Will someones death be caused by this later on?”.
I tried to form images while reading to get a feel of what a place may feel like and what a character may look like. An example of this is in chapter 7 when Krakauer describes himself waiting for his teammates at Camp One and sees a person named, Pete Schoening. Krakauer then describes him “Dressed in faded, threadbare GoreTex, a couple months shy from his sixty-ninth birthday, Pete was a gangly, slightly stooped man…” (Krakauer 212). This put an image of a man in a big jacket with graying hair and wrinkly skin and head bent a little forward all the time. I find myself looking at characters in a more “what do they look like” way and looking at places in a “what does that place look and feel like” way.
So far I found this novel interesting and my reflection has showed me that I have an interest for novels similar to Into Thin Air. As a reader, I believe that I am a strong reader but do have trouble staying focused sometimes, especially if I find one part boring. Usually this happens when the author decides to give some background information. I am excited to finish off the rest of this novel.
Sources: Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air /Jon Krakauer. Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Pub. Group, 1997. Sources: