06 August 2013

Seeing Green

I'm considering making book reviews (or my version of them anyway) a part of my usual blogging schedule, if for no other reason than to remind myself of what I've read (my memory can be pretty garbage with things like that).

I don't read much.  Actually, depending on your definition of 'read' you may think that I do not read at all, considering my most usual fiction delivery system is the audiobook.  Audiobooks have advantages and disadvantages.  Advantages include freeing up my hands enabling me to knit on the train and an increase in entertainment value if they are read well (for example, if there are Irish characters and the performer does a decent Irish accent).  Disadvantages include that it takes a lot longer to finish a book in audio format, and if they are not read well your impression of the book can be influenced.

I've already mentioned my most recent obsession of the vlogbrothers.  This has extended to an interest in nerdfighteria generally and John Green's books specifically.  The first of his books I read was The Fault in Our Stars, which itself had it's faults (haha), but overall was the most affecting book I've read in a long time, or possibly ever.  I spoke about it on my blog before even finishing the entire book, illustrating how strongly I felt about it.

Recently, I've been churning through Green's back catalogue, hoping that his earlier work would give me all the feelings, or just give me a good story, like Tfios did.  On the whole, I have to say I'm disappointed.  His earlier books are OK, but certainly not fabulous.  Here are some of my thoughts, in the order in which I listened to them.

I've linked the titles of each book to their respective page from John Green's website.

Just OK.  It wasn't terrible, but it certainly wasn't a book I would rush out and recommend to anyone. Not sure what else to say about it, you can read the blurb yourself. I think my favourite thing about any book is the diaglogue, so when a book is weak, or unrealistic, on diaglogue the whole thing is spoiled for me. People just don't talk like that. Also, I didn't find the main premise of the book, or the protagonist's (I can't even remember his name) goal believable or interesting. That might just be me though.

My obsession with the vlogbrothers has involved watching every single one of their videos in order.  It's actually a bit weird, experiencing events that happened over years in a few short weeks of youtubing.  I watched countless videos leading up to and about the release of Paper Towns, and seen a lot of the responses to papertowns as described by John and Hank in their videos, all seemingly very very positive.

I was a bit shocked to discover, upon reading it, that the book is just nothing.  That may sound very harsh, but I didn't see the point to it.  Not much happens, and the things that do happen take so so long to happen.  I did not like Margo at all, what a brat.  I found the rest of the characters boring/unconvincing and again, the dialogue bothered me. People don't talk that way.

A lot less fuss was made about this book in vlogbrothers videos compared to Paper Towns, so my expectations were not so inflated.  So I was actually pleasantly surprised, this was a really good book. It's about two teenages who share a name, who randomly come across one another and loosely are involved in each other's lives. The ending was the only part I didn't like, way too convoluted. I think I liked David Levitan's Will Grayson more than Greens', the character just was more interesting and grew a lot more through the book. I would definitely recommend this one, despite the ending.

I screwed myself with this book, unwittingly (well, I should have known better, I was browsing this tumblr [Don't click on it if you haven't read the book seriously the first line spoils the whole thing]) spoiled the whole plot. Even so, this book was really good, I didn't see it coming, and the aftermath was written very empathetically and realistically. And this was his first book! I liked the characters a lot more, and the dialogue was believable. I also spoiled the ending for myself by watching this video of a young John Green (told you I was obsessed) talking about some of his school hijinks (this time I swear it was unwittingly). In short, would recommend.

Here, I drew a graph of what I thought of each of John Green's books, in the order he wrote them.

I'm not sure why I'm so underwhelmed by Green's books.  They're not terrible, but they're certainly, on the whole, nothing to write home about.  I've been thinking about why I feel this way, and I think a big part of it is that I am not a teenager (the intended audience) and therefore cannot relate to the characters.  Even when I was a teenager, romantic relationships were never on my list of priorities, and I think that books about them are a bit cringeworthy. 



  1. I'm actually in the process of reading all of his books, too!

    I haven't read PT or WGWG yet, but LfA and Tfios were totally my favorite two.

    1. LfA and Tfios are definitely his strongest novels. Intersesting to hear your thoughts about WGWG and PT, I didnt get PT at all!