I now understand the love for The Fault in Our Stars: It’s charming, imaginative, and self-deprecating about its own pretentiousness. It totally reads...moreI now understand the love for The Fault in Our Stars: It’s charming, imaginative, and self-deprecating about its own pretentiousness. It totally reads like something that was started in a creative writing class, which I liked. Also I have to say that John Green, a man in his thirties, does a creepily good job of writing from the perspective of a teenaged girl. When I didn’t overthink it, I was really impressed and not creeped out by this feat.
Other times, I kind of was tho. Another thing that kept taking me out of the world was that Hazel, Augustus, and even Peter Van Houten have very similar voices and the same linguistic tendencies. For example, the speech of all three characters is filled with British English, and I was surprised when Augustus complimented Hazel for making adjectival forms of nouns since he does it a lot himself (as does Van Houten, though I guess that Hazel could’ve picked it up from him, her favorite writer). As a result, when they would praise one another for their wit and intellect, it was a little weird, and even moreso when I thought about John Green writing all of this and how he was basically praising himself, which killed his self-deprecation game a little bit. And if this book were a Word document I would CTRL+F and delete every instance of "vague"/"vaguely" because they seriously have to go OMG!
Voice/style aside, I was also unsettled by Isaac, who seemed to serve as comic relief until the last quarter of the novel, when he stopped being a caricature and became a character to be taken seriously. While I thought that the dark or irreverent humor was often used well, when it was used in relation to Isaac, I could not help but feel uncomfortable. I liked him and wished that he wasn’t the sidekick whom we were supposed to pity because he went blind from eye cancer (view spoiler)[and was dumped by his girlfriend (hide spoiler)]. The way that Green treated Isaac kind of counteracted his message about not pitying kids with cancer. In short, John Green needs to be nicer to his sidekicks.
The beginning of the novel was stronger than the middle, and the middle was stronger than the ending, which was probably the corniest part of them all. In general I have no problem with corniness but felt that Green owed it to us readers to be more authentic at the end. What Augustus would call “metaphorically resonant” existential lines increased in frequency, and then it was over.
But I feel like I am being too negative in this review. Overall, I did enjoy The Fault in Our Stars. It may have weirded me out in a few different ways and used a few too many clichés, it may have been too self-conscious for its own good and misstepped in its tragicomedy, but there was a lot to like. I admire the heart that John Green put into this project, even as the product is not without its issues. And it would be interesting to see what he writes next.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
A short, gripping thought experiment that meditates on human nature, the afterlife (and life on earth by extension), and the concept of infinity / the...moreA short, gripping thought experiment that meditates on human nature, the afterlife (and life on earth by extension), and the concept of infinity / the infiniteness of finiteness. It really sucked me in, and I found it to be alternately goofy and horrifying/tragic, which was great. I know I will be thinking/feeling about it for a while. I liked that the narrator, a geologist, is a kind of alter-ego of the author, an evolutionary ecologist, and that the author speculatively created and placed himself in an afterlife that is in fundamental ways an antithesis to the Celestial Kingdom.
"Once I spent a year just listening. Another, trying to build a telescope made from clarified sheep intestines from the kiosk, so that I might look deep into the library."(less)
I went into this one most excited about Shakespeare's Moor, but as in Julius Caesar, the title character didn't turn out to be the central character....moreI went into this one most excited about Shakespeare's Moor, but as in Julius Caesar, the title character didn't turn out to be the central character. While Othello's status as an Other and his relationship with Desdemona are all interesting, to me Othello is all about Iago.
At first Iago kind of reminded me of Julius Caesar's Cassius. But I soon discovered that unlike the sympathetic Cassius, Iago is a virtual sociopath. And Shakespeare is so good at writing him! Just incredible and fascinating.(less)
So I kind of left this book at home and still have 100 pages left. AAAAH! But I'll be borrowing a copy from the library ASAP.
So far: Hilarious. Full o...moreSo I kind of left this book at home and still have 100 pages left. AAAAH! But I'll be borrowing a copy from the library ASAP.
So far: Hilarious. Full of surprises. Sad. Adorable. Kind of annoying. EXTREMELY IMAGINATIVE. And very experimental, though I have to say it's becoming tiring for me. The grandfather's writing style especially, and especially in big doses. He has no voice except for emo-ness, and really long sentences.
I enjoy Oksar's narrative the most, I think it's the best part. But even while he is quirky and has a *great* voice and child's perception (SO GOOD), he is not entirely believable. Sometimes you can very clearly see the author come through the things that he says, especially when making big statements about love, life, death, and healing. Some of these are beautiful and inventive; others feel contrived in their poeticality and symbolism.
Not too far into the book, I did start to lose interest and found myself waiting for the Oskar parts. The alternating narratives don't seem to have any direction or to connect successfully. And it is definitely repetitive and overly emotional at this point. Everybody just cries. I think their stories would touch us more if we weren't always told that they began to cry.
On Extremely Loud in comparison to its twin, The History of Love: I heard how Krauss & Foer didn't read each other's books until after they were published, and it is too, too remarkable. This is what people call Destiny, or something like that. Similarities are MANY! (Someone could write a thesis on it.)
Perhaps it is up to personal taste and experience which one you like better. To me, Foer is talented, sensitive, and imaginative like his spouse, but much more outrageous and risk-taking. His ideas just overflow onto the pages from his ever-creating brain, and they are often delightful. Unfortunately, they can't all fit. Even a little streamlining would help, I think. Foer is not attentive to two very key things which are the pacing and construction of his novel.
I find Krauss's writing to be a lot tighter and subtler, and The History of Love is better as a story, but given that we're all different, the erraticism and sentimentality of Extremely Loud might appeal to some people more. I'd definitely be interested in hearing whether people were moved more by Extremely Loud or The History of Love, or both (or neither).(less)