Feb 21, 2012

Have You Read This?

If not, you need to ASAP.


  1. I've heard wonderful things about this. Entertainment Weekly even had it as a must read (not that they always know good literature, but it's great exposure! Not that John Green needs any extra advertising!!)

  2. I haven't read it. But it looks very eye-catching.

  3. Well, I guess great minds think alike!!!!

  4. Yes. And while I admire Green's ambition, I found the execution somewhat unsatisfying.

  5. Sure. I love his writing, but I thought his own intelligence (and ego) got in the way of the story. I found the dialogue completely unbelievable. Even if you accept that these are kids with expansive vocabularies (and I don't accept that Gus, who is an all-star athlete who plays a lot of video games and reads the literary equivalent of fast food could ever have the vocabulary he does), I don't know any teenagers whose every conversation drips with metaphor, irony, and witty rejoinders.

    Secondly, as he does in all of his books but especially in this one, Green sacrifices story on the altar of Theme. It's almost as if he's writing in the hopes of impressing English teachers enough to use his book in class. This one was so full of metaphor and messages that it became impossible for me to read about the smallest detail without wondering what hidden meaning I was missing. A piece of playground equipment isn't just a piece of playground equipment. Kissing at the Anne Frank Museum isn't just two horny kids kissing. Shit falling out of trees into a Holland river is probably more than just nice imagery. And even if it isn't, there is so much metaphor and theme that you think it might be. It pulled me out of the story (what little story there was) time and again.

    As a result, I didn't feel the emotion I know Green intended me to feel. It's hard to fall for the characters when Green insists on asserting himself so frequently. Whenever I began to get sucked into the story, there was Green, pants off and waving them in the air, to remind me that he--HE--had written this. And wasn't it so damn full of MEANING?

    I found the references to the "genius" of Peter Van Houten off-putting, since he was invented by Green. Nothing says massive ego like having your characters gush about the genius of the words of another character who you created.

    Speaking of Van Houten, his reappearance at the funeral was something out of a bad movie and an editor never would have let a rookie author get away with it.

    On the other hand, much of the writing is gorgeous and Green excels where it counts most: in telling the truth. I've never had cancer, but the way his characters handled it-their thoughts, reactions, fears, hopes, etc.--felt authentic. And like I said, it's ambitious to tackle the topic of teenagers with cancer and I admire ambition like that. For kids who have or have had cancer, the book is probably a comfort and might even be profound. If so, then I'm glad Green wrote it.