Yet another reason Joss Whedon is awesome.
I am a double time college student who volunteers at two libraries where I help decide what books to purchase.
But mostly this is just about me trying to find time to read books in between.
So here's my story with John Green. I have read...three of his books? An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Don't ask me why I haven't read Looking for Alaska, even though it's the ONE book of his that I actually own.
The problem that I have is that while I was mildly quirky and fairly intelligent for a teenager -so long as you ignore that year that I was fourteen- those were not my only character traits. Quirkiness is not something you can base a character on, unless it somehow ties into an actual trait. I can't see it as a foundation for a character. John Green does.
That's the major problem I have with this book. And maybe I wouldn't feel so strongly about it if I wasn't attacked from all sides by people telling me that John Green is the greatest YA author ever. And maybe I wouldn't have felt this sort of apathy while reading the book if I hadn't been disappointed in his previous books that I read, admittedly not his best books, but still.
So before pitchforks come out, let me say that this was not a bad book. It wasn't. But was it so much more different than other cancer books I've read? Yeah, no. Nothing stood out to me except for the quirkiness of the characters, and like I said above, I was not too impressed with it.
Also, if this were not a John Green book and I was not promised it was his absolute best ever, I would have dropped it early in. And here's why, in one nicely wrapped up word:
The beginning of the book absolutely oozed with the feeling of pretentiousness. I was worried my Kindle was going to become infected. And there were three things that irked me pretty much off the bat:
One: The Basketball Metaphor.
It may come as a surprise that I LOVE sports. I'm rubbish at all of them (except fencing), but I love watching them. Seriously. Football (American and soccer), baseball, hockey, softball, basketball, tennis, volleyball, and I'm slowly starting to get into rugby too. I'm glued to the television during the Olympics. I love sports.
So this analogy, that basketball was just putting a ball through a hoop like a child would put a block in the correctly shaped hole? Yeah, didn't fly with me.
Do you know everything a point guard is thinking during any given play in a basketball game? Yeah, there's the basics like keep dribbling and ball goes in hoop. You're also listening to the coach and relaying messages according to the game plan. Should that plan mess up, you're in charge of creating a new one, relaying that to your team mates. Oh, you also have to keep an eye out for them too because their positions in reference to the defending team's position can change the game plan as well. But you have to consider your teammate's strengths and weaknesses. Think you can get an easy foul to get at the free throw line? Gotta take that into account too.
The shot clock in college is 35 seconds, which some people want reduced to the NBA's 25 seconds. That's twenty five seconds to get down the court, have your team set, scout the defense, and try to get your team the most probable shot.
If all you're doing is putting a ball through the hoop, you're not really playing basketball correctly.
And everything can really be set down to a very basic form. What is writing but putting the next best word after the other?
Two: V for Vendetta.
This point's really personal, so it's probably not a big deal to anyone but me but V for Vendetta is my second favorite comic of all time and second favorite film of all time. To say that it's specifically a boy movie is one thing. I get it, it's a character choice. But you went on to question why boys try to get girls into things like that?
Sweetie, first of all, I don't understand how V for Vendetta is purely for boys. That's a legitimate question. You watched 300 later in the book and didn't comment on its masculinity. What part of revenge, taking down a facist government, and questioning the passivity of people is purely male?
Three: You make fun of cancer books...in a cancer book.
I'm not sure I need to go through with any detail here. It would be different if I thought it was for comedic effect, but I didn't get that feeling.
I point out these three specific instances because they happen in the span of a few pages. All of those things scream 'I'm too good for you!' to me. I'm too good for basketball. I'm too good for V for Vendetta. I'm too good for "normal" cancer books.
But the single most pretentious thing was the dialogue. If you can point out real life teenagers who talk like this, I will give you a million cookies. No joke. I will start baking this very second. While the rule in writing, "Write like you speak" is asinine, there is a point to it! Characters should sound real.
Is a real teenager going to tell you that he buys cigarettes, doesn't light them, for the thrill of it? For the metaphor? I fucking LOVE metaphors. I loved them more when I was a teenager, but who is seriously going to do that?
The characters feel fictional, which in a character driven story, is no bueno.
Now, there's me bitching, but I did say this wasn't a bad book. It's not. The writing is solid, and there were parts that made me laugh and smile. I wasn't wanting to pull my eyes out like I do most YA books nowadays. I did like the parents, they felt more real than a lot of parents in young adult, though I still wonder about the trip. I also liked Isaac.
The ending....I couldn't....like, it was sad, but it wasn't sad. I don't know, maybe I expected too much. (view spoiler)[I really wanted it to drop off in the middle of a sentence. (hide spoiler)] When it came around....eh. In its defence, I knew what was going to happen, but I still know what happens in The Deathly Hallows and I cry every time I read it and watch it.
I was constantly aware that it was fictional. In the end, I wasn't emotionally invested because I couldn't see the story outside of being a story.
I don't like Doctor Who.
I have watched every single episode because my sister is a HUGE Whovian and she wouldn't watch Supernatural until I watched Doctor Who.
That isn't to say I hate Doctor Who. I like Chris Eccleston and frankly, he's the best. I also like The Master and Rose. (I don't like Moffat's writing, ergo, I don't like much in the newer seasons.)
I don't like Doctor Who because I <i>loathe</i> time travel. Seriously. It doesn't make sense and I can't have it make sense in my mind, I've tried. I have tried and have been informed that Back to the Future does it well, but I've never seen it.
This book works because while it discusses time travel, and it's vital to the plot, it doesn't really try so hard to make time travel work. It pretty much just says 'Time travel works because it works.' I am fine with this because it didn't go too far out there with the concept, like my first kiss is your last kiss and memories and I don't even know with Doctor Who.
So the time travel works until it doesn't, which is the ending and that slip of paper. Because if you put those two things in with the other aspects of time travel that you've learned, they both cannot exist/happen.
REGARDLESS! Not bad for a time travel book.
(Though now that I'm typing this, less and less makes sense and I am questioning rounding the review down.)
The book is about Em and Finn 2.0 going back in time to kill James (that may be a spoiler, but it's a pretty fucking obvious one) so that the future they just lived through doesn't happen.
It's also about Marina (Em's 1.0), James, and Finn 1.0 living after James's brother was shot.
Pretty simple, and the plot moves along pleasantly well. There's not too many low points to put it down outside of the beginning.
The characters were pretty well done. I liked Finn the best, I think, because he definitely had the most going for him. The most layers to himself than Marina or James (in either timeline). I was sad when James's brother was shot because I also liked him and Vivianne. I liked Marina towards the end, but she was grating me in the beginning.
James would have been better if we had further developed the differences. Because two years? Not a very long time. Em and Finn's development are a lot more believable because of what they went through. James's? I get, but I don't really get it either.
There's also this really weird love triangle. It's not so bad, with Marina, but I thought after all Em had been through, she could grow a pair of iron ovaries and fucking call it, man.
But Em wasn't exactly weak. I just think that after fourteen different timelines that you know of, where fourteen different Marina's were tortured, you could probably pull the trigger.
Two minor problems though. One, this book says the word 'girl' like an insult and that's fucked up and I will not stand for that. Two, is it really too much to ask for a non-stereotypical minority maid?
The pacing worked extremely well because you know there's a time limit. Three days, tick tock. It gets even better towards the climax which is amazing.
Climax = Amazing. Ending = Nope.
I don't like the ending because A) Pretty obvious where it was going to go from page ten and B) It throws out your existing time travel rules.
Because I don't know how James managed to do what James managed to do. It's a whole new timeline, but in this new timeline, James wouldn't have known what James needs to know to do what James needs to do.
Also, because you make the ending the way it needs to be and then the last paragraph. Really? REALLY?! You just threw the romance into overdrive and FURTHER killed your time travel rules.
Also, Cassandra? I need to know the reason behind that name. If it's not James's mother, I'm going to be pissed.
It's a good book though and it's good because the characters are good and the action is great.
I complain a lot in book reviews but this book really manages to be well written and engaging. I was reading it at work and trying to find things I could slack on so I could finish. When I got a new tablet to play with, I didn't do anything but read this on my Kindle app.
It's a really good book that makes a few missteps. Those missteps are small in most regards, but that ending knocked this book down a half star. The fact that it's being made into a trilogy also knocks it down.
I would recommend this book to people who like mysteries. Not necessarily Sci-Fi, because while the entire story revolves around time travel, it reads more like a mystery and a dystopian.
Overall, great debut and I will probably read the sequel if only for Finn.
(Definitely for Finn.)
Got the only perfect score on an exam in the class that I didn't study for. *brushes self off*
(This means I can relax for the next exam and read a book instead!)
I remember reading Peter Pan when I was little and not liking it at all. I now know why. Little Mary was somewhat of a responsible child. Seriously. Don't know where it went, but I was sort of an old soul for a kid.
Now I go see Disney on Ice productions of Rockstar Disney characters. It's a weird thing.
But Peter Pan, as a character, is irresponsible and a prick. I grew up with three older brothers. One of my brothers convinced me that if I held my middle finger up, that it was something not a lot of people could do and I should go show mom. That's how, at four, I told my mother to 'fuck off' without knowing what the hell I was doing.
Peter Pan makes Wendy and crew fly for days without resting, without telling them how to stop, while laughing as they plunge to their maybe deaths in the water.
I get that it's meant to show that Peter Pan doesn't know right from wrong, but all it showed me was that I thought Wendy should punch him in his stupid laughing face.
I loved Wendy.
But that sort of recklessness just doesn't jive with me. Peter Pan is a really good book, don't get me wrong, but I just didn't feel it because I wanted some parent to come around and tell Peter Pan to stop fucking around.
Great book. Not for me.
Rose's Notes: That's a really good measure to live by. I think many writers are free to feel inspired by others, but in the vein of comparisons, one should strive to improve upon their own experiences and talents from where they started. Inspiration and comparison are not the same thing.
"I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth."
Spoiler Alert: the Proust you so admire? He's gay.