A Review of John Green’s “Looking for Alaska” (Originally posted August 21, 2014)

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I own and have read a lot of John Green novels. In fact I think the only one I haven’t read is one of his collaborative books, Let It Snow. I consider myself a “Nerdfighter,” but I am not above myself in saying that not all of Mr. Green’s books has struck a cord with me. Some examples of these books are An Abundance of Katherines (Meh.) and Paper Towns (Didn’t like it when I read it a few years back, but may give it another go). However, the ones I did enjoy were Will Grayson, Will Grayson, the ever popular, The Fault in Our Stars, and now Looking for Alaska joins this group.

Looking for Alaska was John’s first novel. I couldn’t help but notice that he seemed to take more risks with his first than the others. There are more f-bombs thrown in this work than in any others, as well as sexual dialogue. The main character, Miles or “Pudge,” seemed just slightly different from his usual male characters. The usual “John Green male character” is a nerd who somehow gets the girl’s attention and learns a valuable life lesson through her. This still applies to Miles, but with one subtle difference.

Most of the others stay “goody two shoes” nerds, but Miles decides on his own to change. He picks up smoking (not a good habit, mind you, but no one forces the cigarette into his mouth), he becomes a lot more mischievous, and also starts drinking. One would argue that this is a negative transformation, but this is a coming of age story. What kid doesn’t act out a bit when finding themselves? Especially when in a private school away from their parents. I liked the way Green portrayed all of this. The change was gradual, believable, and interesting.

I noticed a lot of people seem to not like Alaska because she is not only flawed, but bordered on a “selfish bitch” or that she was a “stereotype.” The world is full of stereotypes, whether you want to believe it or not. The typical snobby English major who only reads classics DOES exist. I have met them at my university. I AM a stereotypical English major in a lot of ways. The girl that loves sex, but at the same time is a feminist and gets mad when women are objectified DOES exist. And honestly, what’s wrong with that? Woman should be able to love sex and not want to taken advantage of at the same time. But I’m getting off topic, what I want to say here is people are clichés. But those clichés that people find so “conformist” are what makes us, us. But we are not total clichés. Our stereotypical traits and the traits that differ from those are what makes a person.

I think John Green captured Alaska how he wanted her to be. She was a typical selfish teenager who happened to have a dark past, but at the same time could be warm and oh so energetic. Sure, she was overly mysterious and vague. But trust me, a lot of kids her age WANT to be mysterious and aloof. It’s all the rage. Maniac Pixie Dream Girl is in and I’m sure a lot of teenage girls act just like Alaska Young.

It was very easy to see why Miles would fall for Alaska. He falls for her looks and mysterious enigma, even though that enigma drives him crazy at times, he just can’t stay away. I can compare this to a girl falling for a “bad boy.” He’s so dark and sexy and I can tame him! We get mad at Miles and constantly yell at the book, “She’s using you, you hormone driven idiot!” But there is a pay off. Once she is gone, Miles does realize that he wasn’t the only one to have had her, both romantically and platonically. It was not a great love affair. She was a just a girl trying to escape. And she did.

Looking for Alaska is an entertaining read about kids dealing with loss, life, death, and whether or not you really SEE a person.

I gave this book 5/5 stars on Goodreads.

A Review of John Green’s “The Fault In Our Stars” (Originally posted August 8, 2014)

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I first read the Fault in Our Stars by John Green when it was released. A good friend of mine pre-ordered a signed copy and graciously let me borrow it after she read it. I remember loving it and I remember tears. I was 21. Today, I am 24 and have finished it for a second time three years later. The end result is the same.

I have read other works by Mr. Green. I’ve read Paper Towns and didn’t particularly care for it. I own An Abundance of Katherines and, in the words of the Fault in Our Stars, it’s okay. Will Grayson, Will Grayson I very much enjoyed (though this was a collaboration). I have yet to read Looking for Alaska, but I really want to. Anyway, what I’m trying to get at here is that I think John Green really out did himself with this one.

This time I had my own copy to read and I still felt the heaviness in my chest and the tears leaking from my eyes as I came to the end. If a book can make you feel that much emotion, the author got the job done. I have read other various reviews from both those who loved and hated this novel, and I wanted to see if my opinion would change as I aged a bit.

A common complaint from those who disliked it was that “kids don’t talk like that.” After my second go around, I think this is invalid. True, the teenagers in this story talked more intelligently than of our contemporary times, however I found that their language and philosophy was not over reaching for their age. I must admit that I myself have pondered the breakfast exclusivity of eggs. But think about it, these kids were handed the death card in their teens. I think if I had I would be contemplating my role in the universe and wondering why me. Augustus, Hazel, and Isaac were angry and they had every right to be.

That last sentence might sound a bit pretentious because I am not ill and have no idea what it’s like to suffer with cancer. But I could relate to Hazel Grace Lancaster in one way. I am disabled and use a wheelchair. As Hazel was often subjected to stares and inquiries about her oxygen tank, I know what it’s like to have a lot of eyes on you when you enter a room, as well as questions about your physical condition. Though at times I worry about being a burden to others, especially my own significant other, I am not a “grenade” as Hazel calls it. I would never wish that pain on anyone.

I have wondered about John’s own link to the metaphoric addicted Augustus Waters. I noticed that John likes to use a lot metaphors in his work and I have thought that Augustus is a sort of caricature of Mr. Green himself. But this is a just a side thought.

At 21 I was more enamored with the love story, but now at 24 I find myself more drawn to the character of novelist Peter Van Houten. The last we see of him not being recalled by someone else is on that heartbreaking curb and while I do wish I knew what became of the rest of Hazel’s life, I wish to know what happened to Peter Van Houten even more. We find out later through someone else that he is still a wreck, but what after that?

Musings aside, I feel like the Fault in Our Stars is a book that everyone should read. It will make you cry but there is hope in these pages and your tears. It is not a book about cancer kids, but about seizing the day once you find something in your life worth living for. Even if you don’t like it, I think everyone can take something from it. With all that said, thank you for this book, Mr. Green. It made me appreciate my life a lot more.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

A Review of John Green’s “An Abundance of Katherines” (Originally posted on July 11, 2014)

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I love John Green, I really do. But as I get older, I’m starting to realize that he is more of a “comfort” author to me. When I feel a little down, I reach for a John Green novel. The familiar subjects of quirky nerds and love will put a smile on my face. With that said, let me get to An Abundance of Katherines.

I really liked the tone and format of the book. I liked that Colin was putting together a formula to predict the outcome of relationships and I loved the elaborated footnotes on the bottom of selected pages. This was different and exciting. I could tell Green put a lot of thought and effort into this.

I’ve read a few other reviews and I notice a lot of people couldn’t stand Colin. I actually liked both Colin and Lindsey Lee Wells. Yes, Colin is whiny and yes, he was an annoying know-it-all. But I know people like that, myself included at times. He is a very believable character.

I found Lindsey interesting as well. I know it’s cliché to have a character that “has many faces” in order to be popular, but Lindsey is very aware of what she is doing. Her open self-awareness and indifference to it is what made her interesting to me. However, I did find her relationship with Colin to be predictable. However, I find Green is always predictable with the romance part of his novels.

Hassan was the character that actually got on my nerves. Oh, look another lazy, loud, fat character that uses jokes to give an image that he’s a “free spirit.” When in reality he doesn’t do anything with his life. I did like him more when he came to his realization though. Good for you, Hassan.

Most may disagree with me here, but I felt that An Abundance of Katherines was stronger with character development. I felt the plot to be weak. In fact, the plot got so dry that I found myself not caring about what was going on in Gutshot. At times, the plot moved very slow and all I wanted was to be in the characters’ heads.

Ultimately, I find this to be a cute read if you what something light to perk you up. It is also a different take in YA literature and deserves credit for that. But if you want a challenging or deep read, I would go else where. The plot is rather dry and slow and pretty predictable.  Also, I never want to see the word “fug” again.

I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.