John Green? No thanks.

johngreen_nothanks

— 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.
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A Box of Books

box_of_booksI recently mailed a package to the school I worked at for four years. Inside the box was a stack of books that I had picked up at the Half Price Bookstore, read, and wanted to share. Mind you, I bought these books months ago, but I couldn’t bear to part with them! I almost decided not to mail them at all. Then I looked around at our apartment (which is bursting at the seams already) and decided that since I had read the books, I could live without the physical proof. Here’s what I sent and a review in fifteen words or less, plus some notes to help you decide whether or not you should add it to your summer reading list:

  • Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson: Average teen pulls prank, earning a reputation. He then deals with rumors and ruined reputations.
    • Read Twisted if you like realistic characters and situations, and topics that are relevant to today’s teens. Also read if you liked Anderson’s other novels, like Speak.
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman: Accident lands a girl in a coma. She must decide to live or let go.
    • Read If I Stay if you saw the movie preview and thought it looked interesting, or if you like teenagers put in difficult situations that they must overcome. This one’s a bit of a tearjerker.
  • The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler: 1996 teens access their future Facebook pages through AOL CD. Their choices affect their futures.
    • Read The Future of Us if you enjoyed Asher’s 13 Reasons Why, or if you are interested in how technology has changed our lives in a relatively short time, thanks to the internet and Facebook.
  • Starters by Lissa Price: Elderly rent out teenagers’ bodies for fun, but teens soon become mindless weapons.
    • Read Starters if you like YA dystopian novels with strong female leads like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Matched. This novel has a sequel titled Enders, which I picked up from the library this week, but haven’t started yet.
  • Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian: Lillia, Kat, and Mary help one another seek revenge, but maybe they go too far…
    • Read Burn for Burn if you are tired of YA dystopian novels! This novel has three girls from different social cliques working together on revenge plots. There is also a bit of the supernatural involved. This book is followed by Fire with Fire, which I also read and enjoyed, and I’m interested to see what will happen in the third book in the series.
  • Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer: Meteor pushes moon closer to earth and family must survive with stockpiled food and wood-stove.
    • Read Life As We Knew It if you’re interested in finding out what life would be like if a global natural disaster really happened and you were forced to survive without grocery stores, water, heat, electricity, cell phones, and the internet. The novel is written as a series of journal entries. It is followed up by three other books in the series (which I have not read, and I’m not sure that I will).
  • The Kill Order by James Dashner: Prequel to Maze Runner series. How it all started. Mutating disease released on innocent people.
    • Read The Kill Order if you read the Maze Runner series and are still confused! While this novel still didn’t answer all of my questions, it did help explain how the disease started in the first place. It also shows what life was like right at the time of the sun flares, which are discussed in the Maze Runner books.
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: Kid leaves reservation school to attend a white school for hope of a better future.
    • Read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian if you have ever felt like you didn’t belong in your family, community, or school. Read this book if you’ve felt like there was more to you and your potential than everyone around you imagined. As the main character is a teenage boy, I feel like boys would be drawn to this book more than girls would. Read this book if you disagree with book banning/challenging and you want to see what all the fuss is about.
  • Brian’s Hunt by Gary Paulsen: Author of Hatchet and Brian’s Winter returns with more of Brian’s story.
    • This is the only book out of the bunch that I didn’t read. I just know that kids always like Gary Paulsen’s books. Students are captivated by Brian’s ability to survive in the wild on his own. I remember reading Hatchet and Brian’s Winter in elementary school and really enjoying them. I think I remember this unit in particular because we even got to build our own forts in the school forest. How cool is that?!

How did I do?  Do you think my box of books will be a hit with teenagers looking for something new to read?

Young Adult Authors & Their Characters

Crossword

Try your hand at this crossword puzzle I created just for you!  It’s made up of current popular YA authors and their main characters.  Click on the link below to open up the PDF file.  Print out a copy and see how you do.  A solution page is provided too.

Print this puzzle: YA Author Crossword (1)