Are those spoilers? My taglines? Up there? Not really if amazon.com summarizes each book stating those very facts. Thanks amazon.
A month ago I finished reading John Green’s Paper Towns and this morning I finished Looking for Alaska. and I want to start off by saying that I liked them both a lot. But these are my thoughts.
John Green is apparently some sort of internet celebrity. He’s all up in vloging and responsible for nerdfighting and these are two things I just Do Not Understand. I am a nerd, in the sense that I like comic books and regular books and have mild to very bad social awkwardness. I thought that to be a part of the group collectively known as nerds that would be enough, but John Green and his brother have transcended that title into a more elite group, nerdfighters. It sounds like UFC but for nerds and since their logo is a skull and crossbones looking all gangsta and sick, I felt this theory was valid. My other theory was that they were literally a group of people who fought nerds, but this I dismissed because, seriously, you need a group? The only time a mob is required to take down a nerd is when all members of said group are under the age of five, and even then it would only take three or four. Their website doesn’t give me much more clarity, but this is probably because I’m only an undernerd, a devout lover of star wars and star trek and star things and in this new age of advanced nerds it’s not enough anymore.
Basically, I don’t know who John Green is. I just read his books. And his books are pretty entertaining in that, yeah, they could totally make a movie based on these books and it would star sensitive male lead of the year and Zooey Deschenel, and it would be both parts awkward and heartwarming and it may win an indie award at some nonsense film festival that no one cares about, unless they want to sound smarter.
Here’s the thing- when I was younger my parents pushed me into reading like some parents push their kids into sports. And I was 100% on board- I was averaging about 3-4 books a week, until I discovered the internet which introduced me to fanfiction, so I suppose I was still averaging that amount, just in different channels. But during my sophomore/junior year of high school I suffered massive reading burnout. The first culprit is high fantasy, because after reading three sagas in the span of one month and then trying to start on the Wheel of Time series, I couldn’t anymore. I still can’t. I mean I feel that someday soon I’ll read Game of Thrones, but a crippling fear/PTSD prevents me from picking up the first volume. The other culprit is The Very Modern Novel.
The Very Modern Novel is one book which keeps getting rewritten, contrary to what you may have been taught in school. It is a fictional story, usually told in the first person perspective and it’s subject is: life. In this story the narrator is Average Guy put into A Situation (college/boarding school/trauma/graduation/divorce) which throws him for a loop. In overcoming the Situation he goes on a series of misadventures, with his new set of Much More Interesting Friends. And the story goes on and we laugh and we love and feel with the narrator because they are always such a blank slate that we can’t help but feel, and in the end there is a climax and we are left with the poignant summation of Nothing At All, Nothing Is Resolved. Because that’s life, don’t you get it? You don’t need all the answers. Because Average Guy sure as hell didn’t get them, and he won’t get them, and he doesn’t know if he ever will get them but really, That’s Okay.
Which, you know, thank you. Sherlock. Genius. Either way, John Green’s novels? They are this Very Modern Novel that would have contributed to the reading meltdown of ’02. But since I’ve taken intensive therapy (comics, star wars novels) I can enjoy these books again. Oh there were moments while I read Looking for Alaska when I felt the twinges of anxiety, but more than that I was awash with deja-vu; as though I had read the same book before. Oh that’s right I had- it was called Paper Towns and it featured the same annoying chick character with a penchant for pranking and the same underweight nerdy hero who Has To Save Her. I’m going to assume that his next novel, The Fault in our Stars, is going to feature the same cast but maybe that’s his point. Maybe John Green is building up to a fantastic nightmare universe which is actually a commentary on not just life but karma and the reincarnation cycle, where these teenagers are forced to repeat the same actions for a gross sin they commited in the past. That would seriously be the most badass thing I have ever read and holy shit John Green if you are doing this I will forgive you for coining acronyms that I don’t fucking understand (dftba? wtf?)
Do I come off as overly negative during this tirade? I do, but the thing is- I hate on the things I love. Because I only want them to be better. If it weren’t for the fact that I am terrible with children, I would make a fantastic parent. Anyway, these books: go read them. If nothing else this man understands high school/college boy dialogue and can deliver it with such flair that I feel like I’m back in a dorm. Good thing? Bad thing? Take it as you will.
PS: I would like to note that while writing this both my internet and my cintiq died. The adapter, irreversibly. The cintiq, annoyingly. I’m going back to my original theory of nerdfighters being a force (although one to be reckoned with, apparently) who fuck nerds up, and John Green obviously doesn’t like shit being talked about his books. Or maybe he’s pissed that I only paid for one of them. Well look at it this way, John: I paid full price for one of your books and in reading both ended up with a single story. I think it’s fair.