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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Great John Green Read of 2014

Some background: I've been a fan of the vlogbrothers since 2007 (a nerdfighter, if you will), and yet somehow in all that time I have never read any of John Green's books. I don't think I even have a good reason why not. It's true that I am not a massive fan of contemporary, but I have been known to read it and enjoy it from time to time, so that's not it. I guess I just... never got around to it. But finally FINALLY I was able to make the time in my reading schedule. And I knew I wanted to read them back-to-back, in chronological order, to get the full John Green Experience. Thus became what I have dubbed, The Great John Green Read of 2014.

I read all five of John Green's novels (Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Will Grayson, Will Grayson [with David Levithan], and The Fault in Our Stars) in a two week period (I have not read the short story that he wrote for the anthology, Let It Snow; maybe another time). First thoughts? I loved them all!! Was there any doubt? Maybe a little bit because as I mentioned earlier, contemporary isn't my strong suit. But I really and truly did enjoy his books and the experience of reading them back-to-back on the whole. They were all very memorable and meaningful in their own way.

None of his novels stand out in my mind as head over heels better than the others. I had been sort of expecting John Green's writing to get better and better with each book, but I thought his writing was strong since the beginning and I thought all five novels were pretty on par with each other. If pressed, I would probably say The Fault in Our Stars was my favourite though. I adored many of John Green's characters and many will endure in my memory, but I would say Hazel and Augustus were my favourites of the lot (with maybe the exception of Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson) and so that is why The Fault in Our Stars edges out the rest.

Besides his characters, the other main strength of John Green's novels has got to be their thoughtfulness, as illuminated by some truly brilliant quotes and passages. It's not very often that I read books that make me THINK like these novels did. Actually, I really cannot think of the last time I read a book that was so thought-provoking. A book that had me stuck in my head for hours, pondering profoundly these truths that were laid out so prudently. Normally, I read to escape. But in this experience I learned the value in reading for meditation. It was enlightening and I liked it.

I guess the only slight issue that I had with John Green's writing is that the characters weren't always believably adolescent. Real life teenagers do not talk like they do in John Green's books. The vast majority of adults don't talk like that either, for that matter. But I guess if you're going to be writing a novel in which the characters contemplate the meaning of life and have existential crises and whatnot, then you're going to need to have some pretty intellectual and enlightened characters. So I can let it slide mostly.

Overall, The Great John Green Read of 2014 was a complete success and my only regret is that it was over too quickly and who knows when we'll get the next novel from John Green. Though I have always claimed to be a fan of John Green, I feel like I can now say that I am a legit fan of his books, his writing, his characters, and his thoughtfulness. I'm also super stoked to see The Fault in Our Stars movie, which I am cautiously hopeful will be a good adaptation! So I'm curious: how many of John Green's books have you read and which is your favourite?

36 comments :

  1. I've read Will Grayson, Will Grayson...Looking for Alaska...and The Fault in Our Stars. I need to read the other two; I own them, so I'm aiming for this summer. I'd say Alaska is my favorite, but it's hard to say. And yes, John Green's teenagers don't sound like most teens, but I think there are people that think and talk like that...they just aren't the norm. I love that his books make you think and include great quotes though too.

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    1. Ooh, exciting, I hope you get to them!

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  2. I consider myself a huge John Green fan but I've only read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, TFIOS, and Let It Snow. Loved them though. Interesting that you liked Tiny so much. I hated him more than anyone else in that book. it's been a while since I read it, but I thought he was manipulative and used David's Will. I don't think he meant to be that way, but that was the result. At least I think that's what I thought of him. I just remember disliking him.

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    1. You hated Tiny??! Actually, I kind of get what you're saying. He definitely wasn't perfect. I don't know, I just loved how committed he was to being himself and not being ashamed of it.

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  3. Looking for Alaska was my first and my favorite John Green book for sure, followed very closely by Paper Towns. There's something about the prose in those books! I love John Green's style of writing, and his unique voice. I also have been a fan of the vlogbrothers for a few years now. This TFIOS movie is going to hit hard!

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  4. I've read no John Green :( I have a copy of TFIOS, but just haven't gotten to it. I want to read it before watching the movie.

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    1. S'okay! I'm excited for you actually because you have so much of his work to discover!

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  5. I'm glad you enjoyed this project, Aylee! Looking for Alaska was my first John Green book and it really made me a huge YA fan because it proved to me how much this cannon of literature has grown. I don't really have a favorite of his because I love each of his books for a different reason, but if I had to choose I guess it'll be TFIOS followed closely by Looking for Alaska.

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  6. I (still) think it's brilliant that you read all of his books back to back and in chronological order -you've inspired me to do the same when I actually get around to reading his works. I'm also thrilled that you loved them all so thoroughly and were hard pressed to pick a favorite! I really must be missing out and well that needs to be taken care of soon >.< As a person, John Green sounds like someone I could really fan girl over. I love that he's a geek who loves and defends HP and if that there isn't enough to get me onboard, well your review here certainly was! Thanks Aylee xxxx

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    1. YAY MICHELINE!!!! That makes me so happy to hear and I really cannot wait for you to read them. Makes me excited just thinking about it! I hope you can get to them soon and that you love every minute of it :D

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  7. Woo, fellow Nerdfighter! I've only read the Fault in Our Stars, actually. I started reading Looking for Alaska but unfortunately didn't really get into it. I gave tFiOS 3 stars when I first read it, but I read it again yesterday and liked it, although it was surprisingly short.

    I'm 15, and while I don't often speak like that, I do sometimes. And it happens fairly regularly when I'm writing. So yeah. I liked that they were individuals instead of teenage stereotypes. I always found Hazel's obsession with AIA a bit weird though.

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    1. I still think you're the exception ;) I'd be curious to hear what you think of his other books!

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  8. I can't believe I haven't read any of his books yet.. I'm gonna cry lol

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    1. No crying! Seriously, don't feel bad, I only just read them myself!

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  9. What a fun reading project! I've been meaning to go back and read his backlist titles that I missed the first time around. I need to do this! :-) I totally agree with you about his dialogue not being age appropriate. I don't know any teens (or adults) who talk like that either. But I guess I don't mind. Awesome post!

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    1. Yeah, I don't mind too much either!

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  10. I've been lurking on/subscribed to your blog for a few months now, and just had to come out and comment now :-) DFTBA! It makes me happy to know there are still people reading & enjoying his books for the first time.

    My favorite is Looking for Alaska, easily, with TFIOS and WGx2 (Tiny is the best!) as runners-up. Unlike most people, I don't have a problem with the way the teens talk. Sometimes they sound exactly like my friends and I did (or at least thought we did at the time), so I have never felt that they were unrealistic.

    There are some great John Green short stories out there. And Let it Snow is definitely not to be missed, if you are in the mood for more John Green (I agree, the biggest problem is that it's over too quickly).

    Glad you had fun diving into it all!

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    1. Aww! And it makes me super happy to know that there are people out there reading my blog. Thank you so much for commenting! I'll have to get to Let it Snow and the rest sometime so then I can say I've read everything!

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  11. I hear what you're saying that teens don't normally talk like that, but I think that some of them do. I am thinking of TFiOS, they are reading and relating on different levels than other students. But yes, they can stretch the line of what real teens overall would do and say at times

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  12. I'm glad you ended up having so much fun with this :) I actually haven't read any John Green and I'm not sure if I will. Some of his books just sound so sad and angsty!

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    1. They're certainly not for everyone! I would argue though that while the journey is often angsty, the endings are all hopeful.

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  13. Wow! I have only read the author's The Fault in Our Stars but I do have some of his other books on my shelf. Let's hope I get to them sooner rather than later. I'm so happy to see you did this, Aylee. I'm gonna take lots of motivation from you and do it myself. Fabulous stuff here!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

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  14. The only book for John's I haven't read is An Abundance of Katherines- I did start it- sort of, but other things got in the way. I have to agree with you, these books get you thinking, and they have you contemplating things for a long time after. I found that I didn't mind the language the characters used to much, I kind of chalked it up to how John wrote his characters.

    Anywho... I am very glad you enjoyed his books. My favourites are by far, Will Grayson Will Grayson and TFiOS... those books are just so special to me. Any hopefully, someday, we'll see more books from him.

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    1. YAY SARA!! Can't wait for you to read An Abundance of Katherines. I don't think it will be among your favourites by any means, but I enjoyed it. It was fun chatting with you throughout this experience!

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  15. I really need to watch vlogbrothers. I've seen one video maybe and it was really hilarious and well done and I think I'd like them. I also think I need to give John Green another chance. I liked TFIOS but really disliked An Abundance of Katherines. At times I feel like it's hard for me to separate him/his works from the ridiculous amount of hype he receives. It's not his fault and I can see why people like his books, but not to the degree that he's being portrayed as the best YA contemporary author evarrr, you know?

    Anyway, I am glad your experiment with John Green was such a great success for you! Perhaps you can rec me what you think is the best out of his remaining books I haven't read? I feel like we have fairly similar reading preferences. :)

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    1. I do think you should give him another shot. But I hear you, it can be hard to see around the hype. If you do get around to watching the vlogbrothers, you will get to know John as a very humble person who admits he doesn't understand the hyperbolic praises surrounding his books when other much more talented authors don't receive nearly as much attention.

      And as for recs, I think I will go with Paper Towns. When I first finished it, I'm not sure I knew what to make of it... I needed some time to let it sink in. As time has passed, I feel more and more strongly about it and I absolutely loved it. It is possibly his most existential read of the bunch, which is saying something.

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  16. So I'm really embarrased to say this but I haven't read anything by John Green! I know, I know! I"m horrible and I want to cry lol Great post!

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  17. This was such a great idea, Eilidh, and I'm glad that you enjoyed them all! :D

    I do know what you're saying about his characters not necessarily being believable though...some of the conversations are definitely a bit philosophical for characters that are supposed to be in their teens. :P haha But, I agree...we can let it slide for sure. ;)

    And Tiny Cooper is fantastic...I love him to bits!! :D

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    1. Hee, so glad you love Tiny Cooper too :D He was way too fun!

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    2. haha he's my favourite!! And he really was!! :D

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  18. First off... I think it's magnificent that you read all the books in two weeks. What a wonderful way to do it! And in order of publication--love it! Cool to hear that you thought his writing was consistently good from early to later in his career.

    I read Looking for Alaska years ago for a class and before I knew anything about John Green. I liked the quirky characters and thought the writing was good, but I found the teens to be a little too cynical for me to identify with them.

    Years later, I discovered Vlogbrothers and who John is as a person. Then people raved about TFIOS, but I didn't want to read a cancer book... I read it skeptically... And fell in love. You could say I fell in love with John Green kind of like falling asleep--slowly, and then all at once ;)

    Like you, Hazel and Augustus have a special place in my heart. I'm reading Paper Towns next, then Grayson and Katherines. I'll keep an eye out for Tiny Cooper :)

    Lauren @ Wordy Hughes

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    1. Thanks, Lauren! It was quite the experience and now I can't imagine doing it any other way.

      I can see what you mean about the teens in Looking For Alaska. I don't know, a lot of John's characters are like that it seems. Wise and cynical beyond their years. I don't know any teens like that, but it makes for a more interesting read!

      Awww, I love how you were able to fall in love with TFioS in that way. That is too cute X)

      I seriously loved Paper Towns, so I hope you will too!

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