It seems like quite a while since I’ve done an author taste test, but with me out of school for the summer, I’m hoping to do more of these. This last week, while I was still recovering from the disease which shall not be named (yes, I did have it, turns out), I read three of John Green’s books.
John Green is a big contemporary YA author, and one I’ve heard great things about. As usual when I do one of these taste tests, I picked a variety of books by authors to read. For Green, I picked out his debut novel released in 2005, Looking for Alaska. I picked his most recent release (though he has another book coming out later this year) from 2017, Turtles All the Way Down. And I picked his most popular release from 2012, The Fault in Our Stars. Also, SPOILERS FOR ALL THESE BOOKS!
And this is the result of reading these three…
I started off by reading his most popular book. I figured if I liked any of them, it would be this one. And I was right, mostly. I ended giving it three stars. It wasn’t a bad book, but it definitely wasn’t perfect.
This book tells the romance between Hazel and Augustus Waters, both teenagers who have cancer and meet in a cancer support group. There is also this side plot about Hazel’s obsession with this author and finding out what happened after the end of his book. Hazel and Augustus travel to Amsterdam to visit the author only to find out he’s a grumpy, horrible drunk. In the end, Augustus ends up dying from cancer (I did warn you about spoilers…).
So, here are the things I liked about the book. I enjoyed how each character was shown to cope with cancer differently. Hazel is cynical, inside of herself, and constantly afraid to care or have others care for her because she might die. Augustus copes by humor, laughing and joking during serious situations. There is a great scene where he breaks down in tears, which is more meaningful because he usually just pushes things off his shoulders.
However, the whole side plot about the author felt pretty pointless. I thought the message was going to be that we shouldn’t idealize celebrities because they are human too, but neither Hazel nor Augustus have a drastic change after finding out the author is a jerk. While I liked the friendship between Hazel and Augustus, I never really felt the romance. Augustus just liked Hazel for no apparent reason (at least, we were never given one). The ending with Augustus’s death and Hazel’s grieving was pretty good, and I will admit to crying a bit.
I felt like the characters were introduced as quirky, interesting people, but never developed below the surface. Not a bad book, but it’s not going to be one of my new favorites.
The next John Green book I read was his debut novel, Looking for Alaska. And boy was this book bad…
This book follows Miles, a teen who convinces his parents to send him to a boarding school, where he falls for the quirky girl Alaska. It’s hard to quantify this story, as most of the book revolves around Miles’s friendships with other students and Alaska. Alaska is an absolutely horrible person, looking down on men in general and deeply into drinking and drugs. The group of friends play pranks on the school, all of which were pretty horrible. The only interesting thing in this book is near the end, Alaska ends up dying in a car crash and Miles has to go through some grieving. But, honestly, this book ended before it felt like anything actually happened.
I ended up giving this book one star. It had the same “quirkiness” in characters (Miles is obsessed with learning of famous people’s last words), but there is little deepness in the characters. The only character I semi-liked was Colonel, Miles roommate. The Colonel’s relationship with his mother was great, even if he was pretty stupid hanging out with his friends.
It’s a struggle for me to think of anything good to say about this book, because for the most part it was pretty boring. So let’s go to the final book.
The third book I read by John Green was his most recent release, Turtles All The Way Down. This one, like the previous book, was pretty boring.
It follows Aza, a girl with a bacteria phobia, and her friend Daisy, who writes Rey and Chebacco fanfiction (yes, from Star Wars). They decide to figure out what happened to this millionaire who went into hiding after being tied to illegal activity. They end up befriending the millionaire’s son Davis.
So, I ended up giving this book 2 stars. The one and only reason that I gave it 2 stars and not 1 is because I did enjoy the examination of Aza’s extreme bacteria fear. Like, she literally drinks hand sanitizer after kissing Davis because she’s afraid their bacteria will mix. I have anxiety myself, so I appreciated how Aza’s bacteria anxiety was presented as taking over during inconvenient social situations. I also enjoyed Aza and Daisy’s friendship.
Outside that, nothing much happens in this book. The characters don’t really grow. We find out the millionaire is dead at the end, but not how or why. So there was little to no progress in this book.
John Green seems to write quirky characters but, as I said in my Youtube video, it feels like a child trying to be deep but really just examining surface philosophy. Nothing is actually deep in any of these three books.
As you might be able to guess by me giving these 1, 2, and 3 stars, I probably won’t be reading any more of Green’s books. His books just aren’t for me. Maybe if I was 14 and an angsty teen who wanted to pretend to be deep, I might like them, but not as a 27-year-old who is interested in real philosophy. Brutal, I know.
Have you read any of his books? Did you like his books? Do you want to read his books? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, thank you so much for reading, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,