If you spend any time living online, you have probably come across John Green and his hit novel, The Fault in Our Stars. With all the hype, it is fairIf you spend any time living online, you have probably come across John Green and his hit novel, The Fault in Our Stars. With all the hype, it is fair to expect a lot from this novel. Unfortunately, it is little more than a Nicholas Sparks book written for a modern, Tumblr-addicted audience.
The novel follows Hazel-Grace, a teen suffering from thyroid cancer. She lives on an oxygen machine and spends her time taking college classes and going to a church support group. There, she meets Augustus. As she describes it, she fell in love--the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.
Green does a great job capturing a 2014 seventeen year old female. The reader follows Hazel's narrative as she talks and acts like everyone you encounter online, which makes her relateable and very authentic. It is no wonder that Green is an online sensation. Browsing Tumblr and even the reviews on Goodread, fans have reacted to Greens novel using the same language that Hazel herself uses--a lot of tears...feels...IS THIS REAL LIFE?!
That said, this novel is going to be extremely dated and reveals what an easy target today's youth are. If you write a story about a teen dying of cancer, throw in a cute boy, and a romantic trip to Amsterdam, it is not hard to imagine that an audience will react with passion and sympathy. Unfortunately, none of those elements are unique or even interesting.
Hazel and Augustus take a trip to Amsterdam in order to meet Hazel's favorite author--Peter Van Houten. Van Houten wrote a small novel about a dying teen that inspired Hazel's life. The novel that Van Houten writes has no ending. In fact, it ends mid-sentence, making Haze believe that the main character dies of her illness. She spends much of her time contemplating what happened to the rest of the characters and envisioning her own ending to the story. Van Houten turns out to be a complete jerk, never giving Hazel the answers she is looking for. Now, obviously, Hazel's obsession with the ambiguous ending of Van Houten's book reflects her own worries and guilt about leaving her family after she dies. But the way the book unfolds or wraps the Van Houten storyline is wholey unsatisfying. Hazel never takes away any meaning or understanding from Van Houten's behavior. The novel within the novel could be seen as a meta reflection on the meaning that the characters search for, but it never fully commits to a resolution. I half expected Green's novel to end mid-sentence, a predictable but strong ending that would have nicely mirrored Van Houten's role in Hazel's life. But that never happens.
Instead, we are left with ideas that are posed as deep and meaningful, but are left hanging by the end of the novel. Like Hazel's obsession with Van Houten, the novel spends a lot of time on Augustus' obsession with oblivion and dying a heroic death. And similarly, there is never any resolution or cure to Augustus' misguided search. It would be one thing if the lack of fulfillment was itself a commentary on the bleak nature of life and death, but that is not how it comes across. In the end, the reader is left empty, envisioning the many possibilities of how the novel could have addressed the demons of each character but never does.
The popularity of this novel stems mostly from the strong catch phrases and powerful one-liners sprinkled throughout the novel. To a cynical reader, it comes across as trying too hard (with a story about a child dying of cancer, trying too hard is kind of a given) and a cheap gimmick to invoke reaction.
I know many people will disagree, so leave your thoughts in the comments.
I'm certainly not one to pass up on hype. So, when everyone and their mother started raving about The Hunger Games, I had to check it out for myself.I'm certainly not one to pass up on hype. So, when everyone and their mother started raving about The Hunger Games, I had to check it out for myself. Right off the bat, the story is easy to get into and it is a very easy read. The story is constantly moving, with just just the right balance of predictability and surprise.
The easy reading is closer to reading Twilight than reading any adult fantasy book. This is no surprise, considering it is very appropriately labeled a "young adult" novel. With less of the arbitrary recurring phrases than you find with Stephenie Meyers, it is perhaps more difficult to criticize Suzanne Collin's writing.
While the premise of the book is innovative and immediately fascinating, it is not quite enough to capture an audience. Instead, the quality hinges on the characters. Set years in the future, North America has been replaced by the nation of Panem: made up of twelve independent districts and governed by a cruel regime at the Capitol. Those who reside in the Capitol live a life of wasted luxury at the expense of those in the district, where starvation is a common occurrence. In order to keep the citizens in line, the Capitol has organized a grotesque tradition known as The Hunger Games, where children between the ages of 12 to 18 are forced to fight to the death. You can image this as Rowling's Tri-Wizard Tournaments meet Rome's Coliseum. When the main character, Katniss', sister is picked for the Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place, thus making her a tribute.
Again, the premise is solid but falls short of it's potential. With an underlying concept so horrifying, it has the potential to inflict real trauma on the reader, but Collins often seems to take the easy way out. While District 12 is an underdog, Katniss herself is a Games favorite from the very beginning. She nails her performance every step of the way, and the reader is told that she is in constant danger, but doesn't believe it.
Instead, the characters are what bring this novel to life. While the reader is exclusively in Katniss's head, we quickly learn of the flaws in her perception and can therefore predict and understand other character's actions before she does. She is immediately a likable and tragic heroin, providing for her family since the age of 12 and volunteering to take her sister's place at 16. Once she is in the Games, she is revealed to be smart, strong, distrusting, and often ruthless. These traits make her partly the best and partly the worst counterpart to her District 12 partner, Peeta.
Ultimately, the book stays true to it's title: it's all just a Game. With audiences watching The Hunger Games live, Collins explores the ultimate reality show. A show that pits a love story against a death sentence. Katniss is quick to understand this game and translates it well to the reader. The tragedy of the situation isn't so much the terrors of the playing field, but it's that the Games are so ingrained into Katniss' mind that she can't tell what is real from what is just a survival technique. While not always the most deserving character, Katniss is never less than sympathetic as she tries to navigate love and life in such a public and terrible arena....more
When I wrote my last review for the latest story by Stephenie Meyer, I said that she may as well title her novels: The Edward Cullen Story. Little didWhen I wrote my last review for the latest story by Stephenie Meyer, I said that she may as well title her novels: The Edward Cullen Story. Little did I know that she had the same idea only she called it "Midnight Sun". "Midnight Sun" is the retelling of "Twilight" (yes, as in that series that every girl has read) in Edwards point of view. Meyer had premised to write the book after she finished the saga with "Breaking Dawn" (see preview post- released in Aug) but has since put the novel on hold indefinitely because it was leaked in the Internet. Meyer has since released her incomplete manuscript for all fans and can be found on her website: stepheneimeyer.com
With this in mind, I should have read the text as soon as it was released but because I held on to the hope that one day Meyer will return to the series, I put it off. As of 3 days ago, I gave in and needed a comfort book to read on the night of the election. What better than to get into the mind of a character I have already fallen in love with? "Midnight Sun" was everything I had hoped for. Many shrug off Meyer's re-telling of the same story as a way for her to milk her success but I find it true genius and an act of creativity. [think of "A Thousand Acres" that re-tells a modern version of "King Lear" from the daughters point of view:] It gives readers a new insight into the motives of another character and often forces them to dispel or confirm previous opinions of those characters. Furthermore, fewer stories can be better set up for such a re-telling than "Twilight". The novel has enough material of them apart so that it does not seem like you are just re-reading the story and yet has enough connection in the dialogue to keep the reader remembering what Bella was thinking at the exact same moment.
With that being said, I think I found more personal enjoyment out of reading "Midnight Sun" because it was purely Edward but this satisfaction would not have been possible if Meyer had not originally written the text through Bella. The true magic of the text is exposed when the two characters are together and the reader equally experiences the humor and attraction of one character through the eyes of the other. After reading "Edward's Story" I take back what I had previously said. This is truly "Edward and Bella's story" and Meyer has cleverly set it up so that either perspective makes you fall in love with them both. I hope Meyer eventually finishes the book and provides it for publication because it is really an interesting twist to traditional writing. ...more
**spoiler alert** As the final installments of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series come to a close it is curious to look back and see just how far the**spoiler alert** As the final installments of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series come to a close it is curious to look back and see just how far these remarkable tales have come. Following young Harry Potter, the boy who lived, from his humble beginnings in his uncle’s house to fining out his destiny and what greatness lies ahead. Fans have been taken on an intense rollercoaster. One that has thrown readers into suspense and shock along with sadness and occasional joy. This six of a seven part series is no acceptation and one could argue the best of Rowling’s works yet.
Coming from what seemed like Rowling’s low point, book five, this novel did not have the highest expectations. However, “The Half Blooded Prince” proved to be a perfect mix of the sparkle and delight that filled the first four books yet has stepped up the magic and the mystery to whole new levels. Not only have the characters matured but so has Rowling and her world of Witchcraft. The magic is darker, the secrets are deeper and they all unravel beautifully to keep the pages turning.
To me, it becomes easy to see the best qualities of this book by examining the worst qualities of it’s predecessor. Book 5, “Order of the Phoenix” was long awaited for three years yet was quickly forgotten. The 870 page novel seemed to have a lot of pages just to fill pages and was not an enjoyable read. True, it had some amazing qualities and was core to the overall development of Potter and his journey but once again, not enjoyable. No one wants to read a book were nothing goes right for the protagonist ever! Potter’s situation goes from horrible to worse. The ending is even depressing and the likable characters seem to be loosing with no hope in sight.
Now, in contrast, the little things Rowling changed from the past novel were enough to bring it from worst to best. First off, as most people noticed, this book is MUCH smaller that the last two (maybe she’s not going for the world record after all). Although most fans are disappointed at first with a mere 652, it turns out to be a brilliant alteration. The story goes quickly and there is enough material to keep one interested throughout the pages. Next, for once, things seems to be going well for our little hero. Harry’s got the grades, the friends, and even the girlfriend and what would seem to be Harry’s worst nightmare, Snape’s new position, could have been much, much worse.
With all this being noted, we have not reached the truly remarkable aspect of the novel. That which brings it to a clear contestant for being Rowling’s magnificence: the plot. Now in the sixth year at Hogwarts, there is little magic that the students cannot perform and even less of the Dark Arts that Harry and his friends have not encountered. The magic is deep and compelling and the range of the mystery grows to satisfying new levels. Beginning the story with a look back on Harry’s O.W.L.S the reader is reminded of just how skilled Harry truly is in the Dark arts and foreshadows a relatively good year in school.
Quick to draw interest Rowling begins with Harry’s adventures with Dumbledore, the two greatest wizards of all time, signifying what will stretch over the entire novel and ultimately be it’s core. Even chapter two brings in an unexpected twist when a friend becomes a foe and the questions along with the suspicions grow from there. Now, not to give away too much it is without a doubt the ending that will leave the readers clenched until the final installment. Although the shocking ending of book five was commendable, it pales in comparison to what we see and learn now….
As it was said, the magic is deeper and the plot thicker. Now the once harmless yet incredibly annoying Draco Malfoy has followed In his father’s footsteps and all that Harry once knew and trusted would crumble at his feet.
All in all one may walk away pail when finished with the book but Rowling ties in a satisfaction of the necessity of her shocking events. She foreshadows what is to come in book seven and ties together the maturity and growth her protagonist has endured all in preparation of his final and sure to be greatest adventure yet… ...more
**spoiler alert** HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS If it had to end, it was done right. By Christine Antonios
WARNING: SPOILERS Let me begin this by s**spoiler alert** HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS If it had to end, it was done right. By Christine Antonios
WARNING: SPOILERS Let me begin this by saying, again, how much I have looked forward to the release of this book and my expectations where through the roof. Fortunately, those expectations were met. No, not everything was as I expected, but then again, it would not be J. K. Rowling’s writing if it were so predictable. That being said, I found the finally of this huge series to be right on course. It was an ending of epic proportions and had a Star Wars feeling to the final battle. It was triumphant with a hint of sadness and tragedy but with Rowling’s previous streak of tragic deaths, I was expecting much more tears. Of course, the death of Fred Weasley was terrible but you had to expect one of the Weasley’s to die (I was betting on Percy or Bill). Similarly, Lupin and Tonk’s death was awful but once Harry was asked to be godfather you HAD to see it coming.
It is really hard to talk about Harry Potter with someone who has not yet read the book but I assume that, after almost a week, everyone has read it so I will not worry about proceeding with caution (as you can tell, this will have spoilers). Let me tell you what I love. I love how Dumbledore was given more depth to his character and his flaws were finally revealed. I love how a large audience finally witnessed Harry’s ultimate battle instead of the purely one on one confrontations that have been seen in previous books and I love how this book revealed the true brilliance of Rowling’s writing. I have never seen any other series that ties it’s plot points together so well and creates a seamless story from beginning to end. It seemed like there was absolutely nothing left unused from the previous novels including: the invisibility cloak, polyjuice potion, the Gringotts bank, twin wands, house elves, the tents used in Goblet of Fire and even secret hiding places (what was once so simple as the place Harry used to store his text book became Voldomort’s downfall). I have found that when a fantasy/adventure series comes down to its last battle and the author has set up a conflict so well, not even they can figure out how to get the hero out of the situation so they resort to a new power or a new form of magic, previously unknown to the reader to save the day. Fortunately for Potter readers, Rowling has been getting us used to concepts and magical ideas from day one. This gives us time to understand how they work and once put all together, are a believable solution to the problem. Everything seemed planned from book 1 and nothing felt out of place.
I would say that certain characters where somewhat robbed of their moment, for example, Peter Pettigrue who, in my mind, could have had a much bigger role in book 7 than just to die and Snape, who was seen more in his memories than in his present day fight for good. On Snape’s account however, I liked how Snape was ultimately not a hero and had it not been for Lily, he would have never helped Harry. Once again, love is seen as the ultimate tie to “good”. I also expected Neville to be the one who finally killed Bellatrix but I suppose Mrs. Weasley did it just as well and I love that Neville had a crucial role in killing Voldomort, considering it could have been up to him all along, according to the prophecy.
Overall, the moment the made me cry the most was as Harry realized he had to die in order to kill Voldomort and the family that he has already lost was there with him as he faced his end. It was finally up to Harry, without anyone else’s help, relying on his courage, humility and goodness. I remember the whole time I was reading that chapter I was never convinced that Harry was going to die. Somehow Rowling was going to fix the situation but never the less, I was in tears the whole way.
I know most people look at Deathly Hallows just as an ending but as a separate novel, it really is one of the best in the series. Granted, when listing my favorite book of the 7, I cannot really consider this one just because I cannot consider it as one to stand along. However, the story is captivating and does not drag in any parts. In fact, the 759 pages seem to end too quickly. Each character further develops, yet they stay true to the characteristics that have defined them from the very beginning.
Honestly, I have so much to say about this book, most of which are a jumble in my head so I will stop writing now. It is obviously not something I can “recommend” to anyone because the enjoyment really depends on your knowledge of the first six books. For me, it was the end of a childhood. 10 years in the making and I’m still as hooked as I was when I was 8 years old. I am going to miss Harry, Ron, and Hermione and the world the J. K. Rowling created for us. I am going to miss the anticipation of waiting for each installment and I think I can safely say I will never love another series the way I love Harry Potter. But with that said, if it had to end, it was done right....more
**spoiler alert** LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT EDWARD CULLEN A Twilight Saga Review By Christine Antonios
I am not ashamed to admit that I am in love with Edwar**spoiler alert** LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT EDWARD CULLEN A Twilight Saga Review By Christine Antonios
I am not ashamed to admit that I am in love with Edward Cullen. No worries, I am still perfectly sane (or as sane as I was prior to Twilight) and I understand he is a fictional character but all those who have picked up this series know that the Twilight Saga should just be re-titled to say, “Edward Cullen: A Woman’s Guide to Unhealthy Expectations ”. Ok, maybe not, but this is why I don’t write books, I only read them. Either way, let us not kid ourselves into thinking that anyone is really interested in Bella except for the fact that she seems perfect for Edward. Most of us would have thrown Bella off a cliff if she were to choose Jacob (unless of course she was to leave Edward to me) and why we anxiously skimmed the 308 pages of New Moon that left Edward unaccounted for. In all seriousness however, most of you have heard of the Twilight Series by now (and if not, get out from under that rock) and probably know a female gushing over the latest book, released Aug. 2 at 12:01am. The numbers came in that 250,000 copies have been sold at Borders and Walden Bookstores on the first day alone and it came in second on Amazon’s pre-order charts beaten only by Harry Potter. Of course, I should know about the madness behind the novel because I was part of it and received my book at 12:07am.
Let us discuss the book itself. Breaking Dawn was by far the most mature book of the series although it was also probably the happiest. Like I said before, this series for me consists of Edward Cullen so as long as Stephanie Meyer did not mess him up for me, I was going to be happy but that does not mean that Breaking Dawn, or the entire series for that matter, is without flaws. I am personally never one for gushy romantic phrases or sappy declarations of love, which fill the first three novels and Breaking Dawn was no different especially because Edward and Bella’s relationship has now been taken to another level but over time you get used to Meyer’s way of phrasing things and the gag reflexes subside.
Now let us talk about Bella and Stephanie Meyer’s strengths in building characters. As I have said multiple times, an author can win me over by developing one great character, even if the actual book isn’t brilliant but here, Meyer has developed an entire cast of great characters. She develops three strong characters that perfectly fit together as our heroes and developed a perfect support group in the Cullen family that compliments them. Readers swoon over Edward, identify with Bella and love Jacob. Firstly, many people have criticized Bella Swan because she is winy and high maintenance and no one ever thought she deserved Edward (or Jacob for that matter). I would beg to differ, however, because I understand how Bella is exactly the kind of girl Edward needed and no one in the world could fulfill Bella’s needs the way Edward did. Many have said that Edward’s protection for Bella is almost too fatherly and he is too afraid to break her but I think that Bella is Edward’s complete opposite and she is strong in her own ways (she is dating a vampire for goodness sakes- mental strength is a given). Bella never relies on Edward to save her, she just relies on him to be there but she never expects it. True, her self-esteem could use a little help but that is part of what makes her flawed as an unselfish heroin (I realize the irony in that statement because even Bella would argue that she is the most selfish). [WARNING: SPOILER- IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED BREAKING DAWN SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH]. In the end, however, I love Bella so much more as a vampire. As a vampire, she is everything she was not as a human yet did not loose the qualities that made her unique. Her immortality accentuated her uniqueness while balancing the power between Bella and Edward so it felt like an equal relationship.
About Jacob. For me, Jacob is the truly the better character. This is not taking away from Edward because we know he’s the perfect guy (not that he does not have his moments… how could he ask such a thing of Jacob?!) but I would assume that it is much easier to create a perfect guy than it is to create a perfect character (see the distinction I am making). Jacob’s descriptions and dialog is unparalleled. The reader is sent to feel everything Jacob is feeling, from his love for Bella to his struggles with “the Pack’s joint thoughts”. I love that Bella can be herself around Jacob. I love that Jacob can tell Bella when she is being stupid and that he can still follow her reasoning, even when it is ridiculous. I love that they have nicknames for each other and that none of their relationship would have been possible, or this natural if Bella were not more in love with Edward than she is with Jacob. Most of all however, [WARNING: SPOILER- IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED BREAKING DAWN SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH] I love that Jacob imprinted on Bella’s daughter in a moment that left me horrified, disgusted, relieved and laughing hysterically. It truly seems like the perfect solution (as if none of us knew Jacob would imprint- we just didn’t know on whom) even if it a little weird.
The last thing I am going to say in this terribly long review (which didn’t really end up being about Breaking Dawn) is that everyone out there who has not read the series yet needs to get over whatever it is that is stopping them and pick up Twilight because with Midnight Sun in the works, the hype isn’t going away anytime soon so might as well fall in love with Edward Cullen and join us Twilighters now. ...more