John Green? No thanks.

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— Warning: may contain teeny, tiny book spoilers about Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines
     It’s official. I am not a John Green fan.
     If you didn’t gasp or let out a disgruntled hmmpf, then you probably aren’t familiar with Green. John Green is a Young Adult author who has legions of adoring fans. His novels include Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with David Levithan), and a little novel-turned-movie you might have heard of called The Fault in our Stars. Green is kind of nerdy and adorkable. He video blogs along with his brother Hank and has inspired a community of followers who call themselves Nerdfighters. He has won myriad awards for writing about teenagers in (supposedly) realistic settings. His books have sold millions of copies and two have become movies (Paper Towns is scheduled to premiere this summer). He was also included in Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the World. In all, he’s an author getting a lot of buzz.
     So how could I, a lover of Young Adult literature, not be a fan of John Green?
I know, I was surprised too! I really wanted to like his books, and gave them an enthusiastic shot, but after reading four of his novels, I can’t quite figure out what the big deal is. I read The Fault in our Stars and thought I liked Green’s work. You can read my comments about the novel here. I wasn’t a crazy, adoring fan who was ready to get the word “okay” tattooed on my body or anything, but I liked the book well enough.
     But then I read three of his other books: Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. While reading all three books, I was faced with the decision of whether to keep reading or to abandon the novel. I kept reading mainly because everyone else seemed to love his books so much. At first I thought I didn’t like the books because the plots were so similar (road trip, anyone?!), but that wasn’t really it. I mean, I was a huge fan of Nancy Drew books, and they all followed the same, predictable plot formula. Instead, what really caused me to dislike Green’s novels are his characters. They are unlikeable. I wouldn’t be friends with them in real life. I don’t get a literary crush on any of the characters. They are whiny, philosophical, annoying, and sometimes boring.
     In Paper Towns, Quentin, Q, gets obsessed with the disappearance of his neighbor and long-time crush, Margo Roth Spiegelman. Q has these deep thoughts about people and whether we can truly know someone based on what they choose to show us about themselves, and it gets so repetitive and dull that I sometimes found myself skimming through paragraphs of text until I got back to the action. His love interest, Margo, is so completely unlikeable that it’s a disappointment when she returns to the story. She’s just plain selfish. Why this book is becoming a movie is beyond me.
     An Abundance of Katherines follows the story of friends Colin and Hassan as they take a road trip to get over Colin’s latest break up. I found it hard to believe that a socially-awkward boy who spends all his time reading and learning languages would have had nineteen girlfriends. He’s obsessive and self-centered, and I can’t see what all of these girls would have been drawn to. Again, the novel’s burgeoning love interest isn’t all that great either. She is a girl who admittedly changes herself so that she is liked by whatever type of person she is around. She does this to the point where she doesn’t even know who she truly is anymore. She was dating her boyfriend mostly to get back at him; she didn’t even really like him. Despite this, we as readers are supposed to like her. On top of the characters, the novel included sections of math formulas that I skimmed over, as well as footnotes that I just found annoying. In all, I think I really could have stopped reading this book and I don’t think I would have felt bad about it.
     So there you have it. An unpopular opinion for sure, but it just goes to show you that we all have different tastes in novels and authors. I will be removing Looking for Alaska from my Goodreads To-Read shelf and I will not be reading Green’s future novels.
How about you? Are you a Green fan? Tell me why or why not in the comments.

A Wrap-up of Recent Reads

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green:

I put a hold on this book on Overdrive way back in August, and I finally got the e-mail saying it was available this week! Needless to say, I downloaded the book right away and started reading it. I’d heard such great things about this book, and I was hoping it was as good as all the hype.

In case you haven’t read the book yet, it stars Hazel Grace, a teenager living with terminal cancer. Hazel is intelligent and witty. She attends community college since she completed her GED already, but she also likes to binge watch America’s Next Top Model. But besides support group and attending her classes, Hazel leads a sheltered life. Her parents are her best friends. One day at support group, she meets a boy named Augustus Waters and everything changes. Augustus had a leg removed to get rid of the cancer in his body. Augustus is full of life and immediately takes to Hazel. Hazel doesn’t want Augustus to become too attached to her because she doesn’t want to hurt him when she passes away. She calls herself a grenade since she is living on borrowed time. Augustus cares for Hazel so much that he uses his Wish (a cancer perk) to take her to Amsterdam to meet an author she idolizes. I don’t want to give away any more of the story than that. What you need to know, however, is that you will both laugh and cry while reading this book.

So did the book live up to its hype? Sort of! I enjoyed the book and gave it a 4/5 on Goodreads, but it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read. I’m not oohing and ahhing over it. I preferred Eleanor & Park and plenty of other books over this one. But does it take on an interesting and complex topic and spin it in a new way? Yes. It was a smart, well-written book with plenty of vocab words I was glad my Kindle Fire could help me out with! Hazel was a well-developed character and I feel like we had some things in common—like watching ANTM marathons and wanting to visit your favorite authors to demand answers from them! Will I go see the movie, coming out this June, starring Shailene Woodley? Perhaps! Not sure if I could manage to drag my husband to this one—I might have to catch it on video instead. Are you a Fault in Our Stars lover? What drew you to the book?

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The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel:

This was another book I had been waiting for on Overdrive. You may remember seeing trailers for the film version which was in theaters this past February. The film, starring the impressive cast of George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, and Hugh Bonneville, had me intrigued because WWII is such a fascinating time period. I decided to skip seeing the movie until I had read the book, but perhaps I didn’t make the right decision there…

The book explains how Adolf Hitler began hoarding Europe’s art treasures. He catalogued the art pieces he wanted—intending to create a new cultural center—as well as the art work he wanted destroyed. A special force of American and British museum directors, curators, and art historians was formed to prevent the further destruction of art pieces, and to search for and reclaim the missing art work. These Monuments Men were not properly equipped, dealt with time-wasting bureaucracy, and sometimes weren’t even armed, yet they passionately strove to preserve thousands of years of culture.

The book, written by Robert M. Edsel, was more historically based than any novel I had ever read. WWII was always one of my favorite units in school and I’ve read several books that take place during the time period, but I had never heard of the Monuments Men. I was interested to find out more about these men and the work they did. Edsel included massive amounts of footnotes, actual photographs, and copies of war-time documents. But one thing the book was sorely missing? Dialogue! I’m assuming the film’s screenwriter took a lot of creative liberties when turning the book into a script. There was no dialogue in the book, and the characters all had their own chapters—rarely were they seen in the same place at the same time. The Monuments Men were really working on their own, mainly relying on the locals to get work done. Without dialogue, the book was dull and slow moving. Here’s my take on what the book sounded like:

George was a tidy man who somehow managed to keep clean, even while living through a war. He looked around at the village in front of him, ripped apart by bullets and looting. He gazed up at the old church. Bullet holes were scattered throughout the pale stone. The wooden front door was miraculously intact, but a large hole exposed the building’s interior. George put up a sign in front of the building to make sure people knew to keep out of the ruins.

Sad to say, the book’s seven day loan expired well before I had completed reading the book. I have no intentions of checking the book out again to finish it, and I’m not so sure I want to see the film anymore either. Has anyone watched the film? What did you think of it?

Entry #20 – Wish List:

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Entry #20 – Wish list:  What books are on your current wish list to read next?

I’m sure you’ve all experienced this feeling too: there’s just never enough time to read everything I want to read!  While I think I read quite a bit, the list of books I want to read just keeps getting longer and longer.  Here are the eight books I’m hoping to read in the near future:

  1. Cress                                                                   wishlistbooks
  2. The Fault in Our Stars
  3. The Monuments Men
  4. Ender’s Game
  5. Delirium
  6. If I Stay
  7. The Spectacular Now
  8. Under the Never Sky

My wish list this summer was based on a post a librarian friend of mine shared on facebook: 14 Books to Read before They Become Movies.  I tried my best to tackle the BuzzFeed list.  Unfortunately, these were super popular books, so I wasn’t always able to get my hands on them at the library.  I only made my way through five of the books on the list!  I’ve been on the waiting list for The Monuments Men for several months.  The movie has already opened and I haven’t read the book.  Five of the books on the list are on my current wish list.  I picked up If I Stay at the Half Price Bookstore recently, so hopefully I’ll be able to cross that one off my list soon.  The 14 Books list has now been updated to 16 Books to Read before They Become Movies.  I’ve read six of the books on this list, but the lists overlap.   How am I supposed to read all the books I want to read when there are so many good books being published all the time?!  Maybe Joseph Joubert had it right when he said, “The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.”

What books are on your reading wish list?