This week’s update is a very special post from a dear friend of mine, Samantha Fabris (http://www.samanthafabris.com/). I’m known Samantha for years. We first met on Xanga.com around nine or ten years ago, eventually we made the move to Livejournal together (where someone out there will know me as “mycoolnewname”) and as Livejournal faded from our lives we connected through Facebook and Twitter. Recently, I had the honor of meeting Samantha for the first time. She came to visit me for a weekend in September, during which we spent a day in New York City exploring the Museum of Natural History, Central Park, and Downtown Manhattan, and drove to Philly to experience a Bastille concert. It was, all in all, a lovely visit, which you can read about at Samantha’s blog.
Anyway, a week or two ago I asked Samantha if she wouldn’t mind writing a guest post for Watch This Space Too! So, without further ado, here is the fantastic post she provided. Thank you Samantha! And to you all, enjoy!
“An Abundance of John Green” by Samantha Fabris
I almost called this post “Looking for An Abundance of Paper Towns with a Fault in Our Stars” but maybe a bit too much?
Earlier this year I read “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. I had recently discovered the Vlog Brothers and all the awesomeness that is
John and Hank Green, so I decided to give his newest book a go. Typically I prefer my books to be scifi/fantasy or at least some sort of action/adventure involved, but I always enjoy a book that makes me cry. And there was a fair bit of crying. Most of all I found that I really liked how his writing reads so smoothly, and his style of humour (yes this is a book about teen cancer, but it still has humourous character interactions).
Whenever I enjoy a book I’m always game to try another book by that author, which usually leads me to reading all of their books. So when I stumbled across “An Abundance of Katherines” at the library I grabbed it. And every time I’ve gone since there’s always another one of his books there, so I’ve been picking my way through them. “The Fault in our Stars” is by far my favourite of Green’s books, and distinctively different from his 3 previous books. It depicts the story of 16 year-old Hazel, who is struggling with cancer. She attends a support group with other teens who are fighters or survivors of cancer. There she meets Augustus and the two fall in love.
It’s been well over 6 months since I’ve read this one, so it’s not very fresh in my mind. Obviously, this book is about cancer and how you choose to live your life with it. Is it better to not love someone to save them the pain of losing you, or do you live your life to the fullest, knowing that it will be short?
Just have lots of tissues handy… there were multiple crying sessions, but I do cry pretty easily. I’m also pretty excited for the movie next year. John Green sounds pretty happy with it, so it should be good!
“An Abundance of Katherines” is about recent high school graduate Colin, who has dated nothing but girls named Katherine his entire life, and was dumped by every single one of them. In the beginning, Colin has just had his heart broken by Katherine #19, and his best friend Hassan drags him off on a road trip to help him get over it. They find themselves in a small town where they befriend Lindsey (coincidentally dating a boy named Colin). A child prodigy who loves anagrams, Colin is determined to have his “Eureka” moment to become someone important (and therefore become a genius, as genius’ have accomplished something, while prodigies are just smart).
Like many geniuses before him. He struggles with the idea of who he is without Katherine, or an important discovery.
Another book about love, friendship, and finding your path in life. I enjoyed Colin’s character, because he was different than your average teen male you usually find in books. He was actually a somewhat unlikeable character. He obviously has some sort of a social disorder, but he is very self-centered. Throughout the book there are flash backs to his various relationships with the 19 Katherines, and with the help of Hassan and Lindsey he realizes how selfish he was, always needing to be shown that he was loved, but never really showing it in return.
Probably my least favourite of the four, “Paper Towns” tells the story of Quentin, soon-to-be high school graduate, and the ever
unattainable girl-next-door, Margo Roth Spiegelman. One night, Margo appears at Quentin’s bedroom window and forces him to go on a midnight revenge run across town, only to disappear the next day. Quentin is determined to find Margo with the help of his friends, and the clues she left behind.
Quentin and Margo had been childhood friends, but had drifted apart as she became a part of the
popular crowd at school. Quentin still admired her from afar and essentially turned her into this perfect girl in his mind, but as he follows the clues to her disappearance, trying to track her down; he starts to realize that she’s nothing like the girl he had in his mind.
I really disliked Margo. She obviously had parental issues, but she was just another one of those “Oh I’m so in tune with the world, I see the fakeness of people and want to escape this fake “paper” life I’m living”. But in the end, I think she just had some serious psychological problems. She needs a few hours in a room with Colin’s psychiatrist parents.
What I did enjoy about this book, and what I think John Green writes best, is the friendships. I loved the road trip at the end with his friends on their search for Margo. No spoilers, but I really was unhappy with the ending. I wasn’t sure what I was hoping for in the end, but that definitely wasn’t it.
“Looking for Alaska” also gets a bonus for making me cry. 16 year-old Miles, bored with his current life, decides to go to a boarding school “to seek the great perhaps”, to find his own adventure. He befriends his roommate “The Captain” and is introduced to The Captain’s best friend Alaska. Miles, aka “Pudge”, instantly falls in love. Miles quickly falls in with the group, turning his boring life into one full of pranks, smoking, drinking, and close friendship.Even though Alaska has a boyfriend, she and Pudge become very close, and Pudge slowly puts together the pieces of the crazy puzzle that is Alaska.
By the time I read Looking for Alaska, I was just feeling like I was reading the same book over again. Katherines, Paper Towns, and Alaska, are all very similar. Each main character is a teenage boy who is very intelligent. He has two very supportive parents, but he’s always stayed out of trouble until now. Colin and Miles each have their own little quirk; Colin likes anagrams, while Miles likes to learn people’s last words. Then there’s the main girl who comes from a broken family, and has some pretty obvious issues; Margo is always running away, pulling off grand adventures, Alaska has some pretty crazy mood swings and a dark past, and Linsday seems to change her personality to fit whoever she is spending time with. Who is the real Margo/Alaska/Lindsey? Each also has similar themes of coming of age, and the purpose of life.
Even though a large amount of my opinion is usually based on the love relationship in books/movies/shows, I found myself preferring the friendships in the three books. Each protagonist has a strong relationship with his best friend which is tested at one point or another, but the friendships always prevail, whether the love relationship does or not.
Each is definitely worth a read, especially if general young adult books are your thing. But don’t read them all at once.
The Fault in Our Stars – 4/5
Looking for Alaska – 3.5/5
An Abundance of Katherines – 3/5
Paper Towns – 3/5
Time to jump back into some scifi/fantasy.
Check out Samantha’s blog at http://www.samanthafabris.com/, where she has also recently reviewed the Lorien Legacies series by Pittacus Lore (“I Am Number Four”).
I’ve got a review of Divergent coming soon, so keep your eyes on this space! 🙂