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all hearthfires & holocausts

eating books. bleeding words.

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R.J. Palacio
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The Fault in Our Stars - John Green More like 3.5 stars. It was good, and I get the hype, but I have definite issues with it. I think I've said this before, but I have a love/meh relationship with John Green. I think he's a fantastic person; I love the vlog brothers and the nerdfighteria and everything he does to uplift and affirm young people. For the most part, I love the characters he writes; it's impossible not to fall for their wit and humor and humanity. Hazel Grace and Augustus and Isaac and every other character right on down the line in The Fault in Our Stars had those attributes, and I loved every single one of them. They were fantastically three dimensional, beautifully flawed and each one of them drew an emotional response from me. I spent the majority of the book outright laughing, swallowing back tears, or laughing through my tears. However, for all its beauty and humor and humanity, I felt as though I were reading the same characters I always see from John Green, just placed into a different setting. I think the problem I have with his characters is that they all have the same voice: his. Girl, boy, heartsick, cancer sick--they're all the same fast talking, twenty-dollar word using, existentialist, metaphor loving caricatures of the author himself. I loved Hazel Grace and Augustus, but all I could see was John Green pulling the strings above them, waving his hands and gripping his hair and talking a mile a minute to his brother Hank. It comes off a bit pretentious at times. Do I think some teenagers--certainly the ones I like to read about--are capable of thoughtful conversations, rife with SAT words and metaphors? Absolutely. Do I think they speak in questioning-the-meaning-of-my-existence soliloquies as often as his characters do? No, I don't. Additionally, I felt the Van Houten plot device was an unrealistic element (another JG calling card) to a story that didn't need it. The Fault in Our Stars would have been just as meaningful and thought provoking without the trip to Amsterdam (I mean, really?!). I think John Green did himself a disservice with it; he was more than capable of posing the same questions and arriving at the answers in a realistic way that fit the story. Despite those detractions, The Fault in Our Stars is a beautiful book, one that will stick with me. One that hit home in the places that are still tender. One that, for all I enjoyed it, I will not be reading again. I've been wearing the ending like a bruise all day, and I'll be glad when the ache dulls.