Tag Archives: john green

Book Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Title:                   Looking For Alaska
Author:             John Green
Format:             Paperback
Price:                  PHP 429.00
Read Date:      29 January 2012

 

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green’s arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

Book Trailer (Fan Made):

Review In A Nutshell:
My journey into John Green’s books is pretty unorthodox.  I made a conscious decision to read his first novel, Looking For Alaska, last.  I wasn’t disappointed because, if anything, reading Looking For Alaska last made me love and appreciate all of John Green’s works even more.

—————————————————————————————————-

Looking For Alaska is told from the perspective of Miles “Pudge” Halter who decided to move into Culver Creek boarding school in search of his Great Perhaps, some means to kill the doll drum of his somewhat normal yet unimaginative life in Florida. There, he became friends with Chip “The Colonel” Martin, Takumi Hikohito and Alaska Young.  From the moment he stepped into his dorm room, every day became an adventure, perhaps more than he would’ve bargained for. Getting drunk, smoking packs, having sex, eating bufriedos and pulling pranks were just some of the things that highlighted his Culver Creek experience. In those occasions, Pudge fell hard for Alaska yet her unpredictable behaviour made it difficult for him to act on those feelings. He did get his chance but a terrible accident left him with nothing but a whole lot of “what-ifs” and questions that sends him and his friends on a quest to look for answers and a means to let go.

As I have shared in my first book review, my journey into John Green’s books is pretty unorthodox.  I made a conscious decision to read his first novel, Looking For Alaska, last.  I wasn’t disappointed because, if anything, reading Looking For Alaska last made me love and appreciate all of John Green’s works even more.

It is no wonder why Looking For Alaska won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association.  The story was well-written: it was sharp, funny and thought-provoking. I had plenty of “Hell, yeah!” moments while reading it. If I had a highlighter beside me, I may have marked all my favorite lines. Unfortunately, my conscientiousness to keep my books pristine won over so I had to make do with colored tags. The characters bounce off the page: they were part-relatable, part-crazy. I loved how John Green distinctly wrote each character even if they were viewed through Pudge’s eyes.  My favorite among them is Takumi. The book suffered some controversy given its pretty explicit writing style that it was even banned but it eventually won over people when John Green opened up about his writing experience.

For his debut novel, John Green’s voice in Looking For Alaska was very distinct — he knew what he wanted and he got it. In a way, this novel set the tone for the rest of his books; how he wants to be known as a writer.  At some point while I was reading it, it made me realize that if I went through his works in the order by which they were published, all would’ve paled in comparison except for The Fault In Our Stars and Zombicorns. In a way, I am glad that I went through my journey with John Green the way I did. And because of this novel, he has solidified his position as one of those authors in my “must read, must buy” list.

—————————————————————————————————-

My Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

My Two Cents:
Buy it. You rarely get fiction that is written this well. I think everyone should have a copy. Seriously.

My John Green Reading Order:
1. An Abundance of Katherines
2. Paper Towns
3. Zombicorns
4. The Fault In Our Stars
5. Looking For Alaska

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


Title:                  The Fault in Our Stars
Author:             John Green
Format:             Hardcover
Price:                  PHP 695.00
Read Date:      21 January 2012

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Review In A Nutshell:
The Fault in Our Stars is a beautifully written love story, the kind that makes you feel warm all over and never get tired of reading, even if you end up emptying another box of tissue.

—————————————————————————————————-

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

– Julius Ceasar by William Shakespeare
(Act 1, Scene 2)

This served as the inspiration for the title of the book.

————————————————————————————————–

I discovered John Green last year, 24 September 2011, when I bought An Abundance of Katherines out of yearning to diversify my reading plate.  Since then, I’ve read that as well as Paper Towns and Zombicorns.  I fell in love with his writing style enough for him to become one of those authors on my “must-buy, must-read” list.  Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising for me to pick-up a copy of The Fault in Our Stars as soon as it was released in the country.

The Fault in Our Stars is told from the perspective of Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16-year old teenager, living with Stage IV Thyroid cancer who exhibited clinical depression 2 years after receiving medical care that prevented her tumors from metastasizing.  A recommendation to join a cancer support group led her to meet Augustus Waters, an ex-basketball player with an amputated leg resulting from a “touch of osteosarcoma” (bone cancer).  Since then, the two share a special friendship with adventures that take them as far as Amsterdam, and discover how meaningful life is despite dealing with the hard and painful side-effects of cancer, or dying.

Reading the synopsis may leave you feel depressed; after all, it does feature teenagers dealing with cancer.  In a way, it is so because The Fault in Our Stars never shied from detailing the struggles of its main characters: Hazel having to always carry her portable oxygen tank or Augustus being unable to drive well given his artificial leg.  Operations, sickbeds, doctors and bodily fluids are told in a nonchalant, almost normal manner.  However, The Fault in Our Stars, at its core, is a beautifully written love story;  it has movie and dinner dates, long phone calls, emails and text messages.  The love shared by Hazel and Augustus is the kind that makes you feel warm all over and never get tired of reading, even if you end up emptying another box of tissue.

Of all his books I’ve read so far, The Fault in Our Stars is perhaps my favorite: I had a hard time putting it down (since I only read when I commute) and it took me around 3 days collectively to finish it (the others, about 14 days at most).  While my reading experience felt like a breeze, its impact was beyond words.  I was greatly reminded about a lot of things: that pain indeed needs to be felt and that simple pleasures enjoyed by those of good health should be cherished and not taken for granted, or much worse, abused.

—————————————————————————————————-

My Rating:
5 out of 5 stars (It was really amazing!)

My Two Cents:
Buy it.  It is seriously one of the best YA fiction I’ve ever read.  And it’s definitely worth every peso since John Green signed (yes, signed!) all first print copies of the book.  As proof, here’s a snapshot of my copy:

—————————————————————————————————-

Favorite Quotes:
“And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”
– Hazel Grace Lancaster, p. 13

“That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.”
– Augustus Waters, p. 63

“You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.”
– Augustus Waters, p. 123

“It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”
– Augustus Waters, p. 176

“All representations of a thing are inherently abstract.”
– Hazel Grace Lancaster, p. 178

“But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”
– Hazel Grace Lancaster, p. 260

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.”
– Augustus Waters, p. 313

—————————————————————————————————-

Other Reviews:
– The Tenacity of Hope by Natalie Standiford (New York Times)
– ‘The Fault In Our Stars’: Love In A Time Of Cancer by Rachel Syme (NPR)