In Which I Read The Book That Scared Me The Most

If you know me, you will know 4 things.

1. I love John Green’s books.  Like all time favorites categories.
2. I love books that will gut me and make me cry. (Ya know, except in public).
3. Cancer is a hard subject for me to read about for personal reasons I have shared but I tend to do it anyways.
4. I have never read The Fault In Our Stars.

The Fault In our Stars

So you might be thinking…so why have you just now read it? Wouldn’t this have been high on your list of books to read?

Why, yes, yes it was. I pre-ordered my copy. I could not wait. So what was the problem?

1. It’s always scary, while exciting, when a favorite author comes out with a new book. Amirite?

2. I don’t shy away from “cancer stories” despite the fact they gut me every time but it’s John Green and I know how his words have the ability to rip me apart, to make me get really inside my head thinking about Big Things and how they just always move me and become lodged in my heart and mind. I just wasn’t sure I could handle it and I psyched myself up.

3. I probably would have gotten over psyching myself out over it but then the HYPE. It spread like wildfire. And all the comments about how people ugly cried and could not live life and all that. If I wasn’t already building it up in my head before NOW I REALLY WAS. I was so scared I wasn’t going to be able to function afterwards. And then the movie news?? Pretty much my expectations for TFIOS were so beyond unmanageable that I just tried to conveniently forget about it on my shelf.

I decided I was going to finally read this book in 2014, before the movie came out, and even put it on my TBR list. But then I got an awesome email inviting me to participate in a John Green interview via the phone and I was like SELF. Let’s do this. Let’s finally read this book. This seems like motivation enough to woman up and sit down with the book you had been anticipating for freaking forever.

So I pulled it off my shelf. Told nobody I was reading it because I didn’t want all the opinions or OMG I CRIED SO HARD because I would get scared off undoubtedly. And I did it.

So here we are…I have just closed the book and the first thing I’ve done is walk over to this computer to get my thoughts down. Okay, that’s a lie. The first thing I did was grab many tissues because tears weren’t the only thing running down my face — yep, TMI, but I had a river of snot just flowing out my nose. My emotions are all over the place. I’m a hot mess. Nope not even hot right now with my red eyes and my snotty nose. Just a mess.

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{SPOILERS AHOY}

So what did I think?

1. I loved it. I did. The story and the characters just defeated that hype monster and let me forget that anyone had talked about this book. It almost felt like I was the only person in the world who had read it. It was powerful, funny and sweet and made me think in the way his books tend to. I was gutted and devastated over Gus for sure but there was also this smile on my face, perhaps was hard to see through the tears so it probably looked more like a grimace, because life is so beautiful even when it’s really, really awful and unfair and sad. To take from Hazel’s dad…it’s such a privilege we have to be able to love the ones we love. Even when it can’t and won’t last forever.

2. I love so much that it wasn’t some cliched “cancer story” with the typical platitudes you see — it made an impact without being obviously inspirational. There are all sorts of stories and they are all important and serve a purpose. I love inspiring stories of all kinds but I was glad that TFIOS wasn’t that. It was about so much more than having cancer or “fighting the good fight”. These characters felt real and not defined by this though it was a part of who they were — they were full of life and cared about normal teen things. It was about life and love and how to live a brave and heroic life without living a Brave and Heroic Life. John Green, like always, manages to capture these amazing and thought-provoking truths in a way that is so subtle and so profound. I found myself thinking A LOT — about how I want to live, what I want to be known for and what, at the end of the day, truly is a well-lived life — a huge topic in The Fault In Our Stars because Gus and Hazel don’t always agree on that.

3. It’s hard to say whether or not this is my favorite John Green novel or not. I feel like Looking For Alaska still holds that spot but TFIOS is a close second. And honestly it’s hard to know, had I read it earlier on with no expectations, would it have been in that spot? Who knows! All I know is that I loved it fiercely.

4. My fear was misplaced for sure. I should have just read the damn book when I pre-ordered it. It contained sadness but my overall feeling was not SAD. A few parts wrecked me but the whole book did not wreck my soul like I thought it would. I was worried that much of this book would really chronicle the sickness part and be really vivid and intense there and it wasn’t. It was about them living their life with this cancer. Sure, it was real and raw and made my heart ache many times but it was also beautiful and uplifting and not at all what I had envisioned.

5. God there are so many quoteable lines. Like always, John Green makes me want to dogear like mad. And YEAH I DID (because I do things like that).

 

Moral of the story: I’m an idiot for building a mountain of fear around this book. I’m so, so glad I finally read it and think you should too if you haven’t already. Just rip the band-aid off  if you’ve been afraid like me! It was emotional but I’m still here — whole and okay! It was everything I could have hoped for the latest John Green book to be and maybe even more. Honestly? I want to reread it already. AND OMG I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE THE MOVIE!!! (AND CRY MY EYES OUT)

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Tell me about your TFIOS experience — good or bad!! Are you another one, like me, who has been holding off on reading it?? RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU ARE EXCITED FOR THE FAULT IN OUR STARS MOVIE!!

Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Wow! I just really love John Green. I read and reviewed Paper Towns a few weeks ago and I just didn’t think anything could top my love for that book…but this one did! I wholeheartedly, from the bottom of my soul, loved this book. I wanted to hug it, implant it in my brain for forever, prance around in sunflower fields with it, etc. etc. But seriously, this is one of those books that I can feel in my soul and so many things about it resonate with my own teenage experience and my life 7-8 years out from my teenage life.

Looking For Alaska was so hard to put down, not only because of the characters and the humor, but because of the unique structure. Each start to a chapter or a section is a timeline counting down to some unknown event that we are just waiting to happen. You know it has to be earth-shattering or something and that anticipation doesn’t wear at all as we get to know the characters and the setting of their boarding school. The “after” just rendered me a lifeless little rag doll.

I really enjoyed the characters in this one– such a fun group of friends that seemed real — they didn’t always treat each other right but they had each other’s back. They all had their flaws – real flaws..not things that just are made to seem like some flaws but then are all cleared up by the end of the novel. While I think Alaska could be really selfish and impulsive, I really understood her quite a bit. I identified so much with her on so many levels (although I’m not at all that quirky and eclectic) and found myself a deeper connection with this character that I typically come across in YA. I feel as though if you ask some of my high school and college boyfriends, they’d find some similarities in Alaska and I. It’s funny how I connected so much more with her than with the Pudge. I did like him though.

My only gripe? Sometimes I felt like the dialogue was a little too contrived. I didn’t really know anyone who talked like that in high school. I think we all wanted to believe we sounded that mature and poignant but we never did. I mean, I had some pretty “deep” conversations but in my dreams could I spout witty, intelligent things all the time. I think it’s like the same way that I always wanted to emulate the witty banter of Gilmore Girls. I totally imagine that I sound that way. But nonetheless, I loved this book but I just thought that should be noted because it crossed my mind a few times. That aside, I really appreciate that John Green knows and appreciates the fact that teens DO think about the bigger pictures and really do want to seek understanding. Teens can HANDLE the stuff he presents and he treats them as competent individuals who can handle the message and the deeper thought in his books.

My final thought: It’s hard to really put all the raw feelings and emotions that this book unearthed from within me. I know that sounds dramatic but it was one of THOSE kind of experiences for me. John Green does it again with memorable characters whom I swear have a real & audible heartbeat, the kind of thought-provoking life questions that keep me up at night and the kind of humor that makes me giggle. Oh and did I mention that I cried a lot at different points but especially when I realized what the answer was to their little “investigation” before they did. I understood that all too well.

Warnings: It IS a more mature YA read — drugs, sex talk, cursing. Just so you know. If that sort of stuff bothers you or if you are of a very young age, you might want to skip this one for now.

Review On A Post-It
five-stars

Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Crushing on the girl next door? It happens. Crushing on the girl next door who is NOTHING like the “girl next door”…that happened to Quentin. As kids they were best friends and they grew apart — Margo became popular and Quentin didn’t. Quentin continued to watch her from afar until she climbs into his window at the wee hours of the night and asks him to join her on the adventure of his lifetime to execute her masterful plan of revenge. After their epic night in which Quentin learns a little about this quirky and one of a kind neighbor of his, Margo vanishes and Quentin is left to piece together the crazy clues Margo left behind while he gets to know the real Margo that been a mystery to him since they were kids.

Paper Towns. Wow. This book has been on my bookshelf for a while but I just never got around to reading it. I’d read Let It Snow and Will Grayson, Will Grayson but had never fully immersed myself in a John Green novel. To say this book was fabulous is an understatement. To say it’s easily been put on my little shelf of “favorite books”…well that’s just the truth.

John Green’s Paper Towns was one of those books that I will undoubtedly read over and over again. It was smart, witty, quirky and beyond thought-provoking. There were so many pages I wanted to dog-ear or highlight or tattoo onto my freaking body. The prose was lovely, the characters were dynamic and the adventure was just downright fun yet had many soul-searching moments. This was the type of book that held immense truths that I couldn’t stop thinking about. It kind of gave me the warm and fuzzies thinking about things like accepting people for who they are, the dynamics of friendships and more!

The 3 things that really made love this book were:

1) The characterization — Every single character just really seemed to seem very dimensional and added a lot to the novel. I could relate to a lot of them or recognize these people as REAL people I’ve encountered. Margo was such an enigma and I loved how Quentin begin to see her for who she REALLY was rather than the picture he had painted of her and wanted her to be. Quentin was just a really great character to be in the head of — so introspective, observant and just very relatable. I loved watching him learn about himself as he learned about Margo and what might have happened to her. Quentin’s friends were so memorable and their roadtrip in the book was just such a great scene in the book.

2) The little details — The black Santas, that one passage of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (I have always loved Whitman!) that really drives a lot of the novel, etc. etc. I could go on.

3. The writing — John Green has a gift and I don’t really know how to explain his writing. It seems trite to say it’s AMAZING but he really does write in that way I love — accessible but packed with SO many truths and observations and SO many quoteable passages that just make me remember why I love reading so much. I haven’t read a book in a long time that made me think and reflect and peak into the innermost part of my being. AND I LOVE THAT. And the dialogue? A+ for sure.

If you haven’t read Paper Towns yet or given John Green a chance, I would recommend it. As I mentioned in my list of 10 books I recommend to non-YA readers, this one is definitely one I will recommend all around. I am going to be taking Looking For Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines off my bookshelf sooner rather than later and will also be picking up his newest book — The Fault In Our Stars — soon!

Two Quotes I Love:

“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”

“When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.”

Review On A Post-It:
 
Check out John Green’s website, his AMAZINGLY entertaining Vlogbrothers channel or check out Paper Towns for yourself! Or check out my reasons why John Green should rule the world!
five-stars

Audiobook Review – Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan & John Green

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan

I’ve never reviewed an audiobook before so this is exciting! I decided that I was going to get more into audiobooks since so many of my favorite bloggers swear by them. I have done ONE audiobook before (This Much I Know Is True by Wally Lamb) so I’m certainly no veteren when it comes to the audiobook scene. I am officially a fan after this one!

Audiobook Review Portion

Let’s just talk about how entertaining this was on audio! I always fear that audiobooks won’t hold my attention but this certainly did. I would advise on NOT listening to this out loud while you are around people that might not want to hear all sorts of swears and some sexual references and jokes. I also would not advise listening to this while you should be working as it may induce the giggles as this book is HILARIOUS and the narrators have the most perfect inflections that really give it that hilarity. I really enjoyed the narrators of this one. They really made it for me. It was easy to follow and they really got into their characters — no monotony here! It switches back and forth between the two Will Grayson’s and I thought it was easy to follow.

I think my only gripe was that sometimes with the one Will Grayson it was hard to follow because it seemed to be in email or IM form a lot of the times because he was IMing but also with the dialogue. I’m not sure how this looks in the book but it was a tad hard to follow but enough that it lost me. I would highly recommend this as an audiobook to people who love contemporary YA and are unsure if an audiobook will hold their attention. This certainly will as the narrators are really quite fantastic and the story is a good pace on audio. Not too much introspection that it loses you because you feel it isn’t moving anywhere but rather has the perfect blend of action and dialogue and comical thoughts.

Review Of The Novel Itself

Oh dear. Where do I even begin? Let’s start with Tiny Cooper! Never in my life have a read a more dynamic character. It’s funny because he isn’t even one of the narrators yet he steals the show and is what I think of most about this novel. Sure he could be selfish and an ass sometimes but, seriously, Tiny Cooper resonated with me for some reason. I think I admired his confidence and optimism but appreciated that he was REAL — selfish, blinded by his own wants but mostly because in his confidence there is still that fraility of being human and being aware of what we lack and what makes us different. He just balanced that well and I thought him to be a great character. I liked the Will Grayson’s well enough but Tiny made the story for me. Really all the characters came alive — from Mona to Gideon.

This could quite possibly be one of the funniest contemporary novels I’ve ever read — YA or adult. It seemed like every sentence – whether it be a description, dialogue or a vagrant thought — always seemed to be so vivid and alive; peppered with wit and hilarity and TRUTH. Whether the passages were just hilarious or thought-provoking, I was always wishing I could mentally highlight passages every so few pages. (Downfall of listening to this rather than reading it!). I mean, the descriptions of the simplest things were brilliant — like talking about how Tiny Cooper fits in a desk! I’m not normally one to just drop a punch of quotes in a review but this book needs to speak for itself:

 
“Dating you would be like a series of unnecessary root canals interspersed with occasional makeout sessions.” 
 
“When things break, it’s not the actual breaking that prevents them from getting back together again. It’s because a little piece gets lost – the two remaining ends couldn’t fit together even if they wanted to. The whole shape has changed.”
 

“I have a friend request from some stranger on facebook and I delete it without looking at the profile because that doesn’t seem natural. ‘Cause friendship should not be as easy as that. It’s like people believe all you need to do is like the same bands in order to be soulmates. Or books. omg… U like the outsiders 2… it’s like we’re the same person! No we’re not. It’s like we have the same English teacher. There’s a difference.”  

I think the only thing that I found to damper my love for this book was some of the scenes with the play. It kind of bored me and if I would have reading it rather than listening to it I would have probably flipped past those songs and some of those parts. It WAS pretty interesting to hear the narrator sing those songs though. 

My Final Thought: I’ve already been a fan of David Levithan but now I’m even more excited to read the John Green books sitting on my shelf. This book was highly entertaining yet was thought-provoking. The Will Grayson’s and Tiny are people who I wouldn’t think I’d have anything in common with but the barest of human emotions and young adulthood will resonate with you as these characters grapple with love and relationships and what it means to truly be yourself. David Levithan and John Green are a fantastic duo and I beg of them to keep collaborating! Definitely recommend this as an audiobook as well. Sure made my commute a lot less rage inducing.

 Review On A Post-It:

Vagrant Yet Valid Thought: Before I had ever heard of this book I wanted to name my future male child William Grayson.


Have you read this book? What did you think? Also, which John Green book should I read first? I own pretty much all of them but I’ve just never read them!

three-half-stars
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