Review: Turtles All The Way Down – John Green

6

SYNOPSIS: Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.  – via Goodreads

Yeah, uhm, this one was certainly not my favourite Green novel. I thoroughly enjoy his work, and some of it is definitely better than other stuff, but unfortunately this just wasn’t my jam. There was a lot to be appreciated in this book, to be sure, but for the most part, I found it to be rather bland and disappointing and really trying to be… I don’t know, too smart and sassy for its own good.

Turtles All The Way Down deals with a mentally ill main character, which is not something commonly handled in a book, and I thought Green did a great job bringing Aza and all her issues to life. There were times where her compulsion of picking open the callus on her finger and made it bleed made me squirm. Okay, not so much that as the rinsing it with clean alcohol over and over again. I could feel that burn. The mental illness issue is handled really well here – it never came across as just a ploy, or something Green is writing about because it is in vogue right now, or just to give us a quirky character, it comes across as genuine.

So while Aza is genuine mentally ill, as Daisy puts it, Aza is extremely selfish and closed off from the world. At times she is infuriating, at others you sort of get what is going on, so well scored there. That being said, the story was really just about Aza and her mental illness and dealing with it, but I thought we would get more. Davis is a character I enjoyed and really way more understanding than I expected, but overall each and every one of the characters, including Aza and the extreme attention to detail due to her condition, just felt empty. I know my opinion won’t be a popular one, but I wasn’t a fan of this.

Something that really got under my skin was Mychal’s name spelling. I swear to goodness, that is one of those new age things where names have to be quirky and unique, and these poor kids look like idiots. UGH. I mean my brother is a good, old fashioned Michael and it works just fine. Names deliberate being spelled differently really just… no. People,  NO. STOP IT THIS INSTANCE! #VentOver

Turtles All The Way Down is a quick read that deals with some serious issues, but it definitely isn’t my favourite John Green novel, and not one I am sure I want to be rushing to reread.

Completed Book Challenge 2014

11

completed book challenge

Another year, done and dusted! Here are the new books that I have made it through this year. I managed some rereads in between, but I cannot count those again. It was most enjoyable. Thanks to all who gave me recommendations that I got to, it was lovely!

1. The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

2. The Perfect Husband (FBI Profiler Series – Quincy #1) – Lisa Gardner

3. Sworn to Silence (Kate Burkholder #1) – Linda Castillo

4. One False Move – Alex Kava

5. Windmills of the Gods – Sidney Sheldon

6. Night Shift – Stephen King

7. The Third Victim (FBI Profiler Series – Quincy #2) – Lisa Gardner

8. The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

9. Unseen (Georgia #5) – Karin Slaughter

10. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

11. Pray for Silence (Kate Burkholder #2) – Linda Castillo

12. The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) – Stephen King

13. Horns – Joe Hill

14. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

15. An Abundance of Katherines – John Green

16. Mailman: A Novel – J Robert Lennon

17. Whitewash – Alex Kava

18. Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane

19. The Rolling Stones: 50 – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood

20. Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk

21. Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green & David Levithan

22. Drive – James Sallis

23. Looking for Alaska – John Green

24. Are You Afraid of the Dark? – Sidney Sheldon

25. The Silence of the Lambs (Hannibal Lecter #2) – Thomas Harris

26. Under the Knife – Tess Gerritsen

27. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) – George R.R. Martin

28. Dracula – Bram Stoker

29. Dead Until Dark (The Southern Vampire Mysteries / Sookie Stackhouse #1) – Charlaine Harris

30. Tell Me Your Dreams – Sidney Sheldon

 


 

That was the original challenge. I finished all of those and then decided to up it to fifty.

31. Living Dead in Dallas (The Southern Vampire Mysteries / Sookie Stackhouse #2) – Charlaine Harris

32. Paper Towns – John Green

33. Club Dead (The Southern Vampire Mysteries / Sookie Stackhouse #3) – Charlaine Harris

34. One Scream Away (Sheridan #1) – Kate Brady

35. Dead to the World (The Southern Vampire Mysteries / Sookie Stackhouse #4) – Charlaine Harris

36. Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies #1) – Isaac Marion

37. Dead as a Doornail (The Southern Vampire Mysteries / Sookie Stackhouse #5) – Charlaine Harris

38. Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill

39. Definitely Dead (The Southern Vampire Mysteries / Sookie Stackhouse #6) – Charlaine Harris

40. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

41. All Together Dead (The Southern Vampire Mysteries / Sookie Stackhouse #7) – Charlaine Harris

42. Cop Town – Karin Slaughter

43. From Dead to Worse (The Southern Vampire Mysteries / Sookie Stackhouse #8) – Charlaine Harris

44. The Bad Place – Dean Koontz

45. Dead and Gone (The Southern Vampire Mysteries / Sookie Stackhouse #9) – Charlaine Harris

46. A Drink Before The War (Kenzie & Gennaro #1) – Dennis Lehane

47. Dead in the Family (The Southern Vampire Mysteries / Sookie Stackhouse #10) – Charlaine Harris

48. The Villa – Nora Roberts

49. Dead Reckoning (The Southern Vampire Mysteries / Sookie Stackhouse #11) – Charlaine Harris

50. Darkness, Take My Hand (Kenzie & Gennaro #1) – Dennis Lehane

Well, there we have it folks. I know I have some recommendations that were given to me, they are on my list, they will most likely make the new year’s challenge 🙂 Thanks so much to everyone who read, commented and recommended, it is much appreciated!

Review: Paper Towns – John Green

12

9780525478188B

Quentin Jacobsen is a regular boring dude living in Jefferson Park in Orlando, Florida. He is in love with his next door neighbour, Margo Roth Spiegelman, though they have not been friends since they were children and she has moved on to be popular in high school. Quentin is in his senior year, almost at the end, and still lusting over Margo, who barely seems to know he exists anymore. One night, though, she appears at his window again, just like when she was a child. She whisks him out for a night on the town while she exacts her revenge on her now ex-boyfriend Jase for cheating on her with her best friend Becca, as well as Lacey Pemberton, her other close friend, for not having told her anything. The two discuss Robert Joyner, the dead man they found as children, and Margo continually makes morbid references. Ending the night, the two break into SeaWorld, and return home.

Quentin is sure that life will be different at school, but Margo does not come in for the day. Marcus “Radar” and Ben Starling are in awe of the retelling of Quentin’s night out with the legendary Margo Roth Spiegelman. Returning home, exhausted, he sees that Margo’s car is not next door, either. Still, he is sure that she has many other adventures to run and all that. A retaliation war breaks out at school, and Quentin emerges the hero when he uses some leverage that he acquired with Margo on their big night out against Jase, and soon everyone is brought back in line. Quentin is really starting to come out of his shell, feeling very good about himself, seeing things in another light. Still thinking of Margo, he is unhappy to meet with his parents, the Spiegelman’s and a detective one morning, querying Margo’s whereabouts. Seeing as she is eighteen, she cannot be seen as a runaway. The Spiegelmans are rather nasty and cold about the whole affair seeing as Margo has run away before, and Quentin and his parents understand why she would not want to be there. The Spiegelmans reveal that every time Margo runs away she leaves a trail of clues, and this soon becomes Quentin’s obsession and lifeline.

Dragging Ben and Radar into his schemes, Quentin starts to investigate Margo, learning more and more that she is not the girl he had treasured in his mind for all those years. It seems that very few people knew anything about Margo at all. Graduation is looming, ever nearer, and Quentin is more obsessed with Margo and what has happened to her than his own future. Some of their discussion from the SeaWorld night comes to him, and he is terrified that she has committed suicide, and left him these breadcrumbs to find her corpse. Quentin uncovers clues, and Ben and Radar help him, but they are not as obsessed. Ben discovered and abandoned mini-mall out of town that it seems Margo frequented, and he hunts there, though the trail is turning both ominous and cold. His friends withdraw their involvement, the clues have run dry, but Quentin is relentless, refusing to give up on Margo.

Where is Margo Roth Spiegelman? What happened to her? Why is Quentin so obsessed with her, to an unnatural level, even? How long will Ben and Radar entertain his fantasies? Will Quentin let go of his hunt for the girl next door and give his future some attention again, something he has been working on for years, or will he throw it away for a troubled teen?

GRADE 5.5It kills me to have to give a score like this to an author I have truly come to love, but I was not enamoured with this novel whatsoever. It all just seemed so… ridiculous. Which, by the way, is never a deal breaker for me, but just did not work for me here. For one, I never actually got to know or like Margo at all. She breezed in and out, and for the brief duration she was featured, she was an irritating bitch that had moments where she was cool, but more often than not was just someone who took herself too seriously and was just far too melodramatic for my taste. Then there is her disappearance and all these clues that she left behind. Which ended up dragging on for a century. Quentin, on the other hand, and both his friends Ben and Radar, do nothing in terms of making them likable. I was just about ready to freak whenever I read “honeybunny”. I mean Green always has a word that catches you in the books, but this was relentless. There was not one character that I could identify with and like. The story constantly felt like it was dawdling and not going anywhere, which just served to exasperate me some more. I could also not fully understand Quentin’s total obsession with this girl he has not been friends with since they were children and who just spent one night with and is now prepared to skip everything in his life (exams, studying, graduation, normal friend things and what not) to stalk her (because that is what it ultimately turned into). I have to say that I was disappointed, I was really let down. I am a fan of Green’s writing style, his expressions, and I have until thus far enjoyed the majority of his characters and the things that they go through. This book just left so much to be desired, which was such a pity. Table 9 Mutant, I think we agree on this.

Review: Looking For Alaska – John Green

11

LOOKING FOR ALASKA COVER

*MAY CONTAIN MINOR SPOILERS*

Miles Halter wishes to escape his boring life, to go and seek the “great perhaps”, to find something new. This is how he convinces his parents to send him to Culver Creek Preparatory School, the same boarding school that his father attended in his youth. Leaving Florida and moving to Alabama is a huge change for Miles, though he is intent on doing it. Miles loves reading about the last words of people, and has a lot memorised. Moving into his new dorm room, he meets his roommate, Chip Martin, whom everyone calls the Colonel. The Colonel is short, sharp witted, smart, and definitely has his own way of doing things. He promptly renames Miles to “Pudge”, to be ironic about Pudge’s super skinniness, and introduces Pudge to Alaska Young, an emotionally unstable yet stunning girl whom Pudge is immediately taken with. Through the two Pudge also meets Takumi Hikohito, a student of Japanese descent. Soon after arriving at Culver Creek, Pudge is abducted by a few “Weekday Warriors”, the students who attend Culver Creek during the week but go home over the weekends. He is duct taped and thrown into the lake, and manages to get himself out. When the Colonel hears what happened, hears that it was not the standard strip and dip, he swears vengeance.

School is going well for Pudge, though the boy he was when he arrived is certainly not the same as he is now. Picking up a few tricks from his new group, Pudge is now smoking, but he will not really consent to the drinking side. It seems that the Weekday Warriors are convinced that the Colonel is responsible for the expulsion of their friends Paul and Marya at the end of the previous year. The Colonel wants to get to the bottom of who is truly responsible. The Colonel and Alaska are renowned for their brilliant pranks, and this years seems to be no exception to the rule. Mr Starnes is the dean of the school, and is called the Eagle. Alaska sets Pudge up with a pretty Romanian girl named Lara Buterskaya, though their first date certainly does not go as planned, and ends on a highly embarrassing note for Pudge when he retches in her lap after getting a concussion. When the Thanksgiving holidays comes up, Pudge and Alaska are the only two students left at school, and they drink, smoke, and explore together. Pudge officially falls in love with her, no longer caring about her attitude and dismal mood swings, he doesn’t even care about her boyfriend, either. The Colonel fetches the two for dinner at his home with his mother on Thanksgiving, and Pudge sees that the Colonel hates the Weekday Warriors for a reason. He really comes from nothing, living in a trailer park with his mother, though there is no trace of embarrassment from his side, he loves her, and would do anything for her.

Planning for the big prank against the Weekday Warriors to get even for what has been happening at school, the Colonel, Alaska, Lara, Pudge, and Takumi all get together for a pre-prank, the prank designed to lull the Weekday Warriors into a sense of peace. Over the weekend that it happens, the group camps out in the woods, smoking, drinking, and pulling off their great plan, which goes successfully. While there, Pudge starts dating Lara, and the group shares the memories of the best and worst days of their lives. Alaska finally shares the last memory she has of her mother, as well as the worst memory of the next day, where her mother had an aneurysm, and Alaska sat with her dead mother instead of having called 911. Pudge finally understands why Alaska is the way she is. Returning to school with the prank completed, the Colonel and Alaska spend every night that week drinking in celebration. On the last night, Pudge joins them. In a drunken state he and Alaska kiss each other at the behest of a drunken dare from Alaska, completely without consideration for their partners. In the middle of the night she freaks out and demands to leave, making Pudge and the Colonel implicit in the plans to distract the Eagle so that she can take her car and leave. They do this, and the next morning receive the devastating news that Alaska was killed in a car accident. Ravaged by feelings of guilt and resentment, Pudge and the Colonel start investigating Alaska’s death, as well as what prompted her to get that hysterical that late at night and want to leave so desperately.

Why did Alaska freak out in the early hours of the morning? Was there anything that Pudge and the Colonel could have done to have stopped the impulsive Alaska even if they had tried? Will life ever go back to normal for them? Will their friendship survive their devastating loss? Will Pudge ever get over the dream image of Alaska he has created in his mind? Will the school find a way to work past what happened? Will the investigation that Pudge and the Colonel have started ever lead to anything? Will they get closure the more they dig, or only open up fresh wounds?

GRADE 7.5This was a pretty good read, though it was rather heavy. Starting with something as mundane as a kid who just wants to be somewhere else, the plot snowballs into something where Miles discovers himself, makes friends, and learns about the world. From the minute that he meets the Colonel at school, things are different. I thought their friendship was hilarious at the best of times. The Colonel was a really cool character, who was multi-layered and had a lot more to offer than what you would expect on a rough first inspection. Another thing I liked was how it was targeted that just because these kids smoked and drank, did not mean they were retarded stupid or lacking or anything like that, which is a societal issue I have just never understood. These kids were smart and driven, though they were cheeky, lost, and broken. They lived life, they didn’t just watch it pass by. That was important for me. Not everything was necessarily realistic in here, but still well worth the read. Alaska was a bitch, but it was never alluded to that she was not, or that she was perfect. It was realistic that Pudge, too, could become irritated by her and find her melodramatic, not just the image of perfection that he initially had of her in her mind. The Old Man was an exceptional teacher, and I had a lot of respect for him. The book’s layout was cool too. The whole before and after thing was unique, showing clearly how one event can impact a person’s whole life, change everything as they know it. It was intense getting past that, though I had worked out early on why Alaska was in the mood she was in on the night in question. There were moments to laugh in this book and others to make you think. This book felt a bit darker than the others that I have read up until now. Not because the other’s didn’t address serious issues or anything like that, just because this one was tackling a totally different question altogether, a completely different experience, and took on a much darker edge because of it. I have said it before and I will say it again, John Green is an exceptional writer. This is just another one of his books that I could highly recommend.

Review: The Fault In Our Stars (2014)

43

the fault in our stars poster

“I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
– Augustus Waters

Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) has cancer, and she has been nothing but terminal her whole life. Her mother, Frannie (Laura Dern), is convinced that Hazel is depressed, and her doctor agrees. Hazel is also forced to go to a support group, which she absolutely hates but goes to because it makes her parents happy. Hazel is sure that she is never going to be a regular teenager, and has sort of come to terms with that. However, one day at group, she meets the insanely gorgeous and witty Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort). She thinks he is gorgeous, but that she doesn’t stand a chance. Augustus has survived his cancer, though it was at the cost of his leg. After group Augustus makes it clear to Hazel that he likes her and that he finds her beautiful, and she feels herself getting reeled in by him. Her mother, naturally, is happy that she is making friends. Visiting at Augustus’s house after group, she tells him about her favourite book, An Imperial Affliction, and he vows to read it if she reads a novelisation of his favourite video game.

the fault in our stars meeting gus

“Even though you have freaking cancer, you are willing to give money to corporation for a chance to acquire even more cancer? Let me just assure you that not being able to breathe? Sucks. Totally disappointing. Totally.” – Hazel Grace Lancaster

Hazel soon becomes sad when Augustus does not contact her, and she starts to think that it was just something to fade away, a great afternoon. Augustus finally talks to her about her book, something he enjoyed immensely. Their mutual friend Isaac (Nat Wolff) has just been broken up with by his girlfriend Monica (Emily Peachey), just before he is to go in for eye cancer and lose his eyesight completely. Hazel and Augustus bond some more. Augustus contacts Peter Van Houten (Willen Dafoe), author of  An Imperial Affliction, to ask him some questions about what happened. He is not given answers, but Hazel is thrilled by the fact that Augustus contacted Van Houten. She, too, sends a mail to the address, and soon receives a reply that Van Houten cannot answer her questions via email, but should she ever find herself in Amsterdam she should pop by. Hazel desperately wants to go, though she is very ill and her mother and father, Michael (Sam Trammell), cannot afford it. Hazel lets it go, but Augustus won’t. He contacts the Genies and uses his wish for them: get them to Amsterdam to meet with Van Houten so that he can answer all their questions pertaining to the end of his book.

the fault in our stars gus and hazel

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you.” – Augustus Waters

Hazel gets really sick before the trip, ending up in the ICU. Augustus cannot see her, and she is crushed when the doctors tell her the Amsterdam trip is most certainly off. Hazel starts to avoid Augustus, which hurts him. She does not want to cause him heartbreak, she knows that she is going to die and refuses to be responsible for his pain. Ultimately, though, she and Augustus see each other again, and he makes it abundantly clear that he does not give a damn whether she thinks she is a grenade that will hurt him or whatever, he wants to spend time with her, even if she is only willing to be friends. As a surprise, Hazel finds out that the Amsterdam trip is back on, and she is thrilled. In Amsterdam she irrevocably falls in love with Augustus, forgetting about the grenade theory, accepting that they both might hurt each other. In Amsterdam, though, things don’t go as planned because Van Houten turns out to be an absolute douchebag and a let down, Hazel and Augustus get closer than ever, and some dark secrets spill out between them, crushing both of them. Hazel has been so focused on the fact that she is sick that is never occurred to her that Augustus may get sick again, that they both may end up terminal.

the fault in our stars eggs

“The world is not a wish-granting factory.” – Augustus Waters

Why was Van Houten so terrible? What will Hazel do now that something she has always loved has turned out to be so tainted? Is their trip to Amsterdam ruined because of the jerky author? Will Hazel and Augustus be able to make the best of the time that they have together? Now that they are back to both fighting cancer, will Augustus overcome his a second time? How long will Hazel be able to go on before finally succumbing to her disease?

the-fault-in-our-stars02

“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” – Hazel Grace Lancaster

GRADE 8This was a very good adaption of the book, so any fear I had of that being messed with has been allayed. Let me put it out there, I too, like Cara, am a stone cold bitch. Nary a tear in sight from me, and that is okay. The rest of the theatre was snivelling, but that is not what I was there for. I was there to see Hazel Grace and Augustus brought to screen, and let me tell you that I was not disappointed in the slightest. Shailene Woodley was a fantastic Hazel, and she did wonders with the material. Ansel Elgort, however, stole the whole show for me. He is the most perfect actor to have cast to play the amazing and weak-knee-inducing Augustus Waters. He had the attitude, the smile, he had it all working for him. There are other cast members that need some shine, too, such as Nat Wolff, who was just a brilliant Isaac, and Sam Trammell and Laura Dern for playing Hazel’s parents Michael and Frannie perfectly. I do wish that Isaac had been given more screen time, he was a simply hilarious character and I thought he was wonderfully cast. I was not a fan of the soundtrack (sorry, but really, really cheesy, though I guess it is exactly what it needs to be, given the type of film), but it was used only when required. I enjoyed the way the film was shot, subtly, with things being emphasised where necessary, but not shoving it down your throat. Some of the humorous scenes from the book were perfectly captured here, which was a joy. Just in case you missed it somehow, I really despise romance movies and chick flicks and all, and this may tick all those boxes, I must also say that this was a story that I fell in love with when I read the book. There was a bit that was cut out of the book when the film was made, but nothing as daunting as the major butchering of things such as Harry Potter (just saying). They did not detract from the story, though I wish that more was done to hint at Augustus and what was to come, etc. Needless to say, it is worth the watch.

Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green & David Levithan

12

will grayson will grayson cover

Will Grayson is a teenager, one who is desperate not to be noticed in life. However, the world has other plans for him. His best friend, the friend he is shackled to in life and cannot get rid of is Tiny Cooper, an absolutely massive, loud, and proud homosexual football player. Recently he has gotten involved with the Gay Straight Alliance, which has widened his friend pool, distinctly leaving Will at the periphery of it. Through the GSA, Will meets Jane, Nick, and a few more friends. He is not particularly sure if he likes Jane or not, but the two bond over their mutual enjoyment of Neutral Milk Hotel, a band. Tiny is forever falling in and out of love, and with no exception, the trio goes out. Tiny gets totally smashed, and Jane and Will are left to get him home and safe without alerting his parents. Over his inert passed out body, Will notices that Jane is, in actual fact, really beautiful when she smiles. He does and does not like her, and the situation is exacerbated when Tiny tries to hook them up together. Jane feels a little embarrassed when she tries to kiss Will, who rejects her. Their relationship is complicated, and Will needs to decide whether or not he likes her. Tiny, on the other hand, is making invisibility really difficult for Will when he decides to have his  life’s story, his musical, Tiny Dancer, a reality this year.

will grayson is a depressed teenager. He is lonely, angry, bitter, and doing his best not to feel anything, though he is always inundated with emotions, really. He is a homosexual that is trying to come to terms with that, though to keep it hidden from everyone. will has fallen in love with a boy he met online named Isaac, someone who understands him, someone he identifies with. will is not sure that they will ever meet, but he is completely bonkers for Isaac. will is a total outsider, with his only actual “friend” so to speak being a goth girl named Maura at his school, who seems to really be interested in him, though naturally he is not reciprocating those feelings, being homosexual and all. Maura seems to get stuck on cross questioning will about his sexuality, which makes him uncomfortable, and he is desperate to be with and meet Isaac. One night, while chatting with Isaac, it is established that it is time they meet. will is thrilled and simply cannot wait. They agree to meet at Frenchy’s in Chicago, and will makes the arrangements with Isaac, spins his mother a story and gets Maura to cover for him with the mathletes.

In Chicago, both Will Graysons are about to meet, having a serious impact on their lives. Will 1 is angry because his fake ID was useless, so he cannot watch the band Maybe Dead Cats with Jane and Tiny, who leave him and go anyway. Will 1 arranged with the band to dedicate Jane’s favourite song to her using her locker combination. Trying to salvage the night and find a joke out of it, Will 1 goes to Frenchy’s, the porn store. Soon after he meets will 2 in there, who is surprised to find they share the same name. Heading out, Will 1 and will 2 sit in the streets, where will 2 is called by Maura. She confides in him that she is Isaac, and that it was all a joke. It seem that will 2 is about to have a melt down, and Will 1 gets Tiny Cooper out there, who spends some time with Will 2. Will 1 and Jane get to talking, and Will 1 is sure that he wants her, though he is peeved with Tiny because Jane is back with her ex-boyfriend, and Will 1 cannot have her anymore. In “typical male fashion”, he wants what he cannot have. Tiny and will 2 enter into a relationship together, so will 2’s life is not completely wrecked, though his friendship with Maura is. Going home, will 2 confesses to his mother that he is gay, and she accepts it. It becomes a thing at school when will 2 also comes out, and he befriends Gideon, another gay guy at school. Tiny’s production is in full swing, too, and he and Will 1 are having a few issues with each other.

Will Tiny’s play become a reality? Will his and will 2’s relationship work? Why did Maura do the things she did? Will will 2 ever let her explain herself? Will Will 1 and Jane ever get their issues sorted?

GRADE 8Elina said this was her favourite Green novel, so I had to check it out (you know me, taking recommendations and all, even if it takes me a while to get to them). I must say, I knew it involved two Will Graysons coming across each other, but I had no idea how this premise was going to be made interesting. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun with it. Again a quick read, but interesting as hell. I thought Maura was the biggest bitch of all time, and there is no excusing what she did. Knowing young gay teens and having met a few while I was still in my teens, I know that they deal with some heavy things and how big an issue coming out is for most of them. I have witnessed the ridiculous persecution they are subjected to, as well as the senseless rejection from parents and peers alike. I think it is so unnecessary, and thought that the authors captured that well. Not that that is the only central theme or anything, but I found it to be an important one. I almost had a stroke when I started chapter two and everything was in lower case, dialogue was strange, no inflection was insinuated or described, and I was thinking I had to get through a whole batch of chapters written like that. I thought the world was going to end. Odd chapters written as Will Grayson 1 and the correct style of writing, even numbers all written as will grayson 2, all lower case and sad. But in the end it is a stroke of genius. I can completely understand why it was written that way. Besides showing the differences between which Will we are dealing with, it also shows will grayson 2’s attitude, feelings, and perceptions. It really pushed the truth of his personality home, his sense of worthlessness, depression and loneliness, how much he thought of himself, etc. I thought that it played out very well. This book is focused on teenagers, and there were a few seconds of thinking what a bunch of whiny bastards they all are, but that is addressed, and relatively quickly. Again, there are lessons to be learned, characters to enjoy, situations to sink your teeth into and all of that. I thought that this was a fantastic pairing up between the authors, and that it was a great book for them, and definitely an enjoyable read. I am a fan of John Green, no two ways about it. I have read enough to know that he is really talented. His style makes me laugh, makes me sad, makes me identify. He writes well. This book was no exception, what with Levithan and Green managing to convey a whole array of emotions and feelings, from something hilarious, to something we all understand, to rejection, fear, exasperation… the whole spectrum is laid bare here. I would certainly recommend Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Review: An Abundance of Katherines – John Green

31

 

an abundance of katherines cover

Meet Colin Singleton, a child prodigy, now seventeen years old, mostly friendless, totally into anagramming things and – get this – recovering from his 19th breakup by a Katherine. That’s right, Colin has an inexplicable thing for the Katherine’s, and they don’t seem to have a long lasting thing for him. Colin is consumed by fear and worry that he will never matter in life, never go on to do anything impressive. He is incredibly smart now, but Colin knows that there is a difference between a prodigy and a genius, and this is something that is never going to change, no matter how much he wants it too. Colin’s best friend Hassan Harbis, a fat, lazy Muslim, attempts to help Colin get over his latest Katherine (again), and decides the best thing to do would be to go on a roadtrip.

Just like that the boys are packed up and trekking across the country, set for an adventure. The whim becomes more serious when Colin slips further into a depression over Katherine, and Hassan is having home withdrawals and for once in his life wants to have an adventure. Hassan is usually glued to the couch and watching copious amounts of Judge Judy. Their trip becomes more settled when they arrive in Gutshot, Tennessee, to visit the tomb of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Still lamenting over Katherine, Colin and Hassan meet Lindsey Lee Wells, a young paramedic in training, who Colin makes assumptions about and soon learns that they are wrong. The more he learns about her, the more he wonders. Lindsey, on the other hand, is dating a Colin, too, whom Hassan and Colin take to calling The Other Colin, or TOC. After an accident on the way to the tomb, Colin and Hassan meet Hollis, Lindsey’s mother, who is immediately taken with Colin, whom she recognizes from the television show Kranial Kidz that he won as a child.

Hollis invites the boys to stay and commissions them to do some work for her and pay them $500-00 a week. She runs the local factory in town, too. Hassan and Colin comply. Their roadtrip finally starts to mean something, and they move in with Hollis and Lindsey in their Pink Mansion while they are staying in Gutshot. TOC seems to be a bit of a tool, and Lindsey seems to have a million different personalities, a different one for each and every lot of people that she is around. This confuses Colin, who finally hits on his “eureka” moment when he is sure that he can mathematically predict the curve of any relationship, and shockingly receives a lot of assistance from Lindsey, who seems to be rather taken with him. Colin is learning much about himself while on his trip, and Lindsey is making some discoveries of her own. TOC treats her pretty badly, and she seems to be taking it, though neither of the boys can understand why. She also does not understand Colin’s incessant need to be noticed and to matter. It seems Hassan, too, is catching up with the world and starts seeing Katrina, Lindsey’s friend.

Why does Lindsey put up with so much from Colin? What changed about her? Will Colin’s “eureka” moment pan out into something? Could this be the something that makes him, that defines him, moves him into the spotlight? Will Hassan ever be less lazy and more motivated to do something with his life? Has Colin finally made a new friend in Lindsey? Will he start seeing girls that do not share the same nine letters of a name?

GRADE 7This was a quick and engaging read, nothing too heavy (even when the math comes up, you can skip it or read it, not really central to the story if you don’t understand it). I like Hassan, and the friendship between him and Colin is amusing. Colin, on the other hand, is pretty cool. There are moments where he is a total annoyance, and one can understand how someone would get annoyed with him. He is smart but he is also selfish and exceptionally insecure. Hassan is extremely entertaining though incredibly lazy. I enjoyed how they were just journeying across America and stumbled upon something that could be great for them. It was cool to watch how the boys became more focused and learned more about themselves than they ever knew. I appreciate John Green’s writing style, though this definitely took me longer to get into than The Fault In Our Stars, but it was nevertheless entertaining. I like the way he took something that could have been bland and boring (I mean really, more teenage breakups?!) and just gave it more flesh and what not. The concept was a standard one but definitely with more of a twist to it. Green is a phenomenally good young adult writer, who writes in a way that you can enjoy his work no matter what age you are, which is something to respect. I am definitely going to be checking out the rest of his books, he is fun.

 

Review: The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

26

the fault in our stars john green cover

Hazel Grace Lancaster is sixteen years old and dying of Stage 4 Thyroid cancer with metastasis forming in her lungs. She was supposed to have her whole life ahead of her but instead it has been snatched away. Hazel is hooked up to a breathing machine and on an experimental drug called Phalanxifor, which seems to be helping. She has different ideas about what to do with the remainder of her life, but instead she is forced to attend a support group for children who are living with cancer to make friends and to live her life. Isaac is a friend of Hazel’s at the support group, who lost an eye when he was younger to cancer, and is horrified and crushed to learn that he will have to remove his other eye, too. Attending group on night, Hazel meets the most gorgeous guy in the world: Augustus “Gus” Waters, who is in remission after amputating his right leg because of osteosarcoma. Hazel is immediately taken with Augustus, and thrilled that he seems to be interested in her. After the meeting, they hang out together, and Hazel almost writes him off when he pops a cigarette into his mouth, but relaxes when he explains it is only metaphorical.

The two start to spend a lot of time together, watching movies and reading one another’s favourite books. Hazel recommends An Imperial Affliction to Augustus, which was written by Peter can Houten. She reads Augustus’s favourite book, a novelisation of his ultimate favourite video game, and she enjoys it. Augustus is completely taken with An Imperial Affliction, and is unhappy that is just ends. He, like Hazel, has many questions to ask about what happens to the remaining characters of the book. Hazel and Augustus spend a lot of time flirting with each other, and Hazel finds that she quite likes being normal by any which standards. However, the two deal with Isaac’s shattered heart when his girlfriend Monica dumps him because she can’t deal with anything anymore. Isaac is an empty shell of a person, and more concerned about losing his girlfriend than losing his eye. Hazel’s parents are thrilled that she has made friends and has a boyfriend, though Hazel starts to put distance between herself and Augustus. She does not want to hurt him, what with the knowledge that she will die. She does not want to inflict pain, especially after she finds out his previous girlfriend Caroline Mathers died of cancer, too. She feels like a grenade, and is worried about hurting him even more.

Augustus starts writing to Peter van Houten, the author who wrote An Imperial Affliction, and asks questions. Van Houten is not very helpful in terms of telling them more, but it sounds like he will share the rest of the story with them if they come in person. Augustus has his wish saved from The Genies and decides to use it to go to Amersterdam, Netherlands, with Hazel. She is shocked and moved by the gesture, but she lands up with a terrible bout of pneumonia and in the hospital, and the trip is cancelled. When she is released, things continue as normal, and later it is said that she can go. However, their trip is slightly marred when the meeting completely flops. Van Houten is a rude and nasty alcoholic and a total loser, and a total disappointment. Instead of allowing him to ruin their trip, Hazel realises that she is in love with Augustus, and that she wants to be with him, no matter what. Augustus is thrilled to hear, but then drops a bomb on Hazel – his cancer is back and has metastasized greatly. Hazel is crushed by the knowledge, and soon realises that Augustus might be the grenade, and not herself.

Augustus’s cancer worsens, and Isaac has gotten over his breakup and is doing everything he can to be there for Augustus. Hazel is permanently by his side, and is terrified of losing him, but realising that is may be a very real possibility. Their relationship continues, and many odd and entertaining and heart-breaking things spot their little love story. Augustus was supposed to be the healthy one, the one that was going to outlive his college student girlfriend. The Waters family is struggling to deal with it, and Hazel sees what someone dying does to a family, and worries about hers. Will they survive after she dies, which is inevitable? Will Hazel be able to deal with anything that happens to her love? Will Isaac be alright with whatever is happening with his greatest friend?

GRADE 9Everyone was carrying on about it, but it was Elina who finally convinced me when she spoke so highly of it. So it had to be done, I had to see what this entire rave was about before the movie assaults us all. I must say, I really enjoyed it. It was a good read, and I like John Green’s writing style, I really appreciated it. This book gives a whole different outlook on cancer patients, once again, and gives you another look at how selfish others can be about it, and how much they deal with. I loved the characters, and Augustus Waters was just too damned adorable. The book kept me interested throughout, and it was great fun to follow Augustus and Hazel on their journey of reading, cancer and wishes and dreams. There were a lot of laughs and there was a lot of tough things to work through, and Isaac made me giggle, he had quite the sense of humour. John Green is pretty damn sharp, which is demonstrated time and time again throughout the novel. This is definitely not the type of book that I would generally read, so I was a little sceptical, especially considering there was a lot of hype surrounding it, but I think it was well justified. If you have not yet read this book, I would highly recommend it.