I was impressed by Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere but in "American Gods" one can clearly see Gaiman's evolution as a writer and storyteller. In this book it...moreI was impressed by Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere but in "American Gods" one can clearly see Gaiman's evolution as a writer and storyteller. In this book it felt like he took his time in setting up his game with his characters, introducing them, making the reader interested and invested in them. The places/towns described in the book were characters on their own with their own history and for me at least it didn't feel like unnecessary landscape descriptions. You road-tripped with the characters all around the US in real (and unreal) places with their own significance for the story. Another amazing feature in this book was his adaptation of cultural/religious figures into modern standards. My personal favorite of course was the adaptation of the ancient Egyptians gods of death into contemporary morticians with a funeral parlor. I think I could probably read an entire spin-off book based on them and their macabre view of the modern world.
An important element and fundamental message that Gaiman wanted to convey was how people create their beliefs and deities depending on their needs and other social factors. And again, this message wasn't forcibly pushed through the story, it was in between the lines, it was the main idea forming in your own mind and that for me is what makes a great book.
I knew John Green from the "vlogbrothers" project and generally appreciated his humor, so I was curious to buy any of his published books, just to get...moreI knew John Green from the "vlogbrothers" project and generally appreciated his humor, so I was curious to buy any of his published books, just to get an idea of his writing. I picked "The Fault in our Stars" because it was so highly praised, hoping I wouldn't be disappointed for the exact same reason. This book falls indeed into the Young Adult category, though I think any kind of young or elder adult would enjoy and be familiar with its message. The story evolves around adolescent romance, yet Green manages to avoid any cliche and depicts -realistically in my opinion- the dynamics of a teenage soul. That is, the difficulties of growing into an adult, the tenuous relationship with one's parents and the immense, inviting challenge that is for a teenager (or anyone really) to be able to connect with a romantic partner. An element that I found very likeable in Green's two main characters was how romance and idealism didn't overwhelm their lives in a way that robbed them of any other distinct trait. They felt complete, with a variety of traits, interests, personal shortcomings. From my point of view, however, this book stands out not so much for its depiction of adolescent love, as much for its depiction of living with a terminal illness, like Hazel's type of cancer. The story avoids any kind of melodramatic peak and opens a window, rather new I'd think for the average reader. Through this window one doesn't see directly to the fatal end of this serious illness, but focuses on the daily journey through life while encumbered by such a physical difficulty. I think it takes on the usual expectations others may hold of patients with cancer, such as the "stoic martyr/brave fighter" or even pessimistic expectations that have to do with life quality and expectancy of life. For me the most touching parts of the story had to do with how each family dealt with cancer and integrated it into their life, somehow not letting it diminish other important parts of life. And as far as I'm concerned, that might be the message of the book, how difficult life events (whether it's illness, death or whatever) are part of our reality. It's up to us to decide whether to let them cloud our entire world-view or shed light on things we cherish in life. (less)