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Posts Tagged ‘John Green’

I was looking for a book to read during Christmas Eve and I thought I’ll read a Christmas-y book. ‘Let it Snow‘ leapt at me. I have had it for years – after I read John Green’sThe Fault in Our Stars‘, I went and got every book that had John Green’s name on it. But I hadn’t read it yet, and now I felt that the time has arrived.

Let it Snow‘ is subtitled ‘Three Holiday Romances‘. It has three romances set during Christmas-time. The three romances can be read as three different stories, but they all happen in and around the same town. They are all interlinked though, and a minor character or a character who is just inside the edges of the frame in one story is the main character or the narrator in the other. I won’t tell you more about the stories. You should read the book to find out more.

I don’t read much YA literature now. There was a time I went through a YA phase, when I read a lot of YA books. I used to ask friends for recommendations and discover new YA writers. But then that phase passed and I didn’t read as many YA books as before. These days I just read books by two of my friends who are YA writers. One of them publishes a new book every two years. Her previous book came out last year. Her new book is coming out soon. I am looking forward to that. My second YA writer friend last published a book six years back. I don’t know when her next book is coming out. I occasionally read a YA book that someone highly recommends. That is how I discovered the wonderful Tschick‘ by Wolfgang Herrndorf, this year. But otherwise, I don’t read YA much.

Let it Snow‘ made me remember why we all love YA books so much. Especially, the first story in the book, ‘The Jubilee Express‘ by Maureen Johnson. The prose in that story is cool and stylish and makes us smile. There is not a single dull sentence. There is no unnecessary word. The narrator is a cool and nerdy girl with an interesting sense of humour and we are totally in her team. That story was wonderful and exceptional and I didn’t want it to end. After reading that story, I wondered why I haven’t heard of Maureen Johnson before, why I haven’t read her stories before, why she is not as famous as John Green or Rainbow Rowell. Because she is good, really good. I want to read more stories by her. The second story in the book is by John Green and we expect that, because he is a celebrity YA writer, he will raise the book to greater heights. But the book suffers a huge, unexpected, sophomore slump there and we keep wondering, “Is this really a John Green story?” That story has its nice parts, but still…In the third story, Lauren Myracle tries to salvage the book and bring back its earlier glory and succeeds partially.

But on the whole, the book succeeds admirably. It has three Christmas romances and they all have wonderful, engaging stories, and beautiful, satisfying endings, and they provided lots of delight to this particular reader, during this holiday season. I loved it. It is a great book to read in winter, in front of a crackling fire, with your dog sitting nestled against you gazing at the fire in wonder, or your cat sitting on your lap purring in her sleep, and you thinking about your great love and smiling to yourself.

Have you read ‘Let it Snow‘? What do you think about it?

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My book reading has not been going too well these last two months. So I thought that to break the jinx, I will read a YA book. And so I got John Green’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ was recommended to me by one of my favourite friends Heidi. Then it was part of NPR’s best YA novels list. And then it ended up in many year-end favourites lists in 2012. So, I had to read it. I finished reading it yesterday. Here is what I think.

 

The story of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ can be told very briefly. It is about Hazel who has cancer but still has a few years because of a medical miracle, and Augustus who appears to have been cured of cancer in his bones. They meet at a Cancer support group, the sparks fly and what happens after that forms the rest of the story. Other characters like Hazel’s parents, Augustus’ friend Isaac, a reclusive writer called Peter van Houten, who has written a novel about a girl who has cancer, and his assistant Lidewij also play important parts in the story.

 

I loved everything about ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, starting from its Shakespearean title, to the way the cover has been created – the title in white chalk on a blackboard and the author’s name in charcoal on a whiteboard :

The Fault In Our Stars By John Green

 

To the second paragraph in the first page which grabbed my heart and refused to let it go :

 

Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying.

 

To the story which was beautiful, humorous, intense, happy and heartbreaking in equal measure, to the beautiful sentences which keep appearing frequently and melt one’s heart, like this :

 

As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep : slowly, and then all at once.

 

And this :

 

Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.

 

And this :

 

“Some war. What am I at war with? My cancer. And what is my cancer? My cancer is me. The tumors are made of me. They’re made of me as surely as my brain and my heart are made of me. It is a civil war, with a predetermined winner…Cancer isn’t a bad guy really. Cancer just wants to be alive.”

 

And this :

 

I would probably never again see the ocean from thirty thousand feet above, so far up that you can’t make out the waves or any boats, so that the ocean is a great and endless monolith. I could imagine it. I could remember it. But I couldn’t see it again, and it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again. That is probably true even if you live to be ninety – although I’m jealous of the people who get to find out for sure.

 

And this :

 

It was kind of a beautiful day, finally real summer in Indianapolis, warm and humid – the kind of weather that reminds you after a long winter that while the world wasn’t built for humans, we were built for the world.

 

To the beautiful dialogues like this one :

 

Hazel : “To be fair to Monica, what you did to her wasn’t very nice either.”

Isaac : “What’d I do to her?”

Hazel : “You know, going blind and everything.”

Isaac : “But that’s not my fault.”

Hazel : “I’m not saying it was your fault. I’m saying it wasn’t nice.”

 

And this one :

 

Stewardess : “Sir, you can’t smoke on this plane. Or any plane.”

Augustus : “I don’t smoke.”

Stewardess : “But –“

Hazel : “It’s a metaphor. He puts the killing thing in his mouth but doesn’t give it the power to kill him.”

Stewardess : “Well, that metaphor is prohibited in today’s flight.”

 

To the delightful references to mathematics and infinity that the book makes, to the fact that the book doesn’t simplify the theme it takes on but illuminates it in all its complexity while still making it read like a YA novel – I loved ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ for all these and more. It is a perfect book. I know that I must be the last person on earth to read it, but I heartily recommend it. Be prepared to laugh and cry and think, all at the same time.

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