Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Why, John Green, why? Why do you take such touching, realistic, inspiring characters, make me want to be best friends with them, and then put them in this particular storyline?

My only complaint about this book? It was too well written. I actually felt the emotions. I cared for the characters. And I choked up when the rollercoaster started going downhill.

The plot itself is pretty simple. Hazel has terminal cancer in her lungs. She’s reliant on a machine to pump oxygen into her body, she doesn’t go to school anymore, and her days are occupied by being a Full Time Sick Person. Then, into her life bounces Augustus Waters, who is sexy, charming, quirky, and full of witty one-liners.

“You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories. We made the funny choice.” Like Hazel and Augustus, John Green also decides to tell his heartbreaking story the funny way. One moment, you’re amused by the character’s antics, and the next, you feel like breaking down because everything is just so hopeless. The review on the cover really sums it up best- ‘filled with staccato bursts of humor and tragedy’. Honestly, how can I review a book when Jodi Picoulti has already done such a good job of it? Alas, I will still try.

I could go on forever about John Green’s amazing writing style and characters and all, but if you’ve read his other books/aren’t living in a hole, you already know about all that. What I wanted to highlight was how illuminating this book is about death. I mean, it’s a pretty central idea, seeing as Hazel has a terminal illness. So many questions are asked, like will they be remembered and how, will they leave their mark on the world and what’s the point of life if they don’t, what happens after death, and how to deal with pain. I’ve never seen, and I doubt I will ever see, a book that deals with deal in such a frank yet thoughtful way. It really stood out for me when Augustus says that the average kid with cancer, even though they’re supposed to be remembered as being “stoic and determined…who heroically fights her cancer with inhuman strength and never complains or stops smiling even at the very end”- they can be pitiful and mean. The book emphasized that a couple times. It sounds harsh, and I was totally taken aback by it.

Anyhow, this book will make you feel so lucky to have more time than the characters. It will make you want to live every moment to the fullest, like they do. But you’ll be persuaded in a less cliché and overdone way because it’s John Green writing this story, and the way he says it sounds much better than me.

(That’s part of the reason I used so many quotes in this review;)  

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Something Wicked by Alan Gratz

There are so few mystery books out there that I’ve really tucked into. I mean like real mystery, not just with ‘mysterious undertones’. But this book…it’s my favourite mystery out there.

The plot is sort of similar to Macbeth, but don't expect the thees and thous and wherefore art thou Romeos. Although there are some references to the play cleverly built in (characters Mac, his girlfriend Beth, and a dog called Spot that later is commanded to leave...see what I'm getting at?) Anyhow, a fortune teller prophesizes that Mac will one day rule the Scottish games. Beth, Mac's ambitious and gorgeous girlfriend, is especially interested by this news. One night, the head of the games, Duncan, is brutally murdered. Horatio Wilkes, Mac’s friend and the awesome main character of this story, has to solve the mystery.

If you haven't read Macbeth, you'll still enjoy this book, but you won't as much as if you had read the play. (Trust me, I speak from experience. I hadn't read Hamlet before I read the sequel to this book, Something Rotten, and I felt like I wasn't getting some of the references). If you've read the play, you'll snicker behind your hands at all the clever ways that Alan Gratz has adapted the storyline. Kind of like being in on an inside joke. That said, this is still a great stand alone book. It's super thrilling, and it had me doubting whether or not the book would follow the play.

The characters are all great, but I’ve gotta say, Megan is one of my all-time favourite female protagonists. She’s super sassy and strong and not about to let anyone walk all over her. She gets to do some serious butt-kicking during the book, too- OH YEAH!!!!

Another thing I’d like to point out is that I loved how the mystery was written. Not naming any names, but some mystery books don’t share all the important details when they happen. Like at the very end the character will suddenly remember a mysterious shadow lurking in the corner of the crime scene, or that the murder victim has a divorced wife who has a criminal record. Or they suddenly find a diary page with the killer’s intents on it. I feel SO CHEATED when books do that. No, every single detail that is ever referenced in this book did actually happen. I checked. I also like how every single end gets tied up, even the whole ‘familiar music’ thing, but you’ll have to read to the end of the book before you figure out what I mean. J

Loved this book? Then you’ll like:

Something Rotten by Alan Gratz
Getting the Girl by Susan Juby