As I got into the book, I began to realize that I kind of really disliked the protagonist. The way he described and thought of women was pretty gross,As I got into the book, I began to realize that I kind of really disliked the protagonist. The way he described and thought of women was pretty gross, actually, and he complained A LOT for someone from an exceptionally privileged background getting to do pretty exceptional things and living an exceptional life pretty much after he'd graduated. I didn't find it funny very often, either, although I don't think I can hold that against the author.
Why I kept reading was simple: I really enjoyed learning about Madrid's culture through his pretty gross narration. Never having been to Spain, it was cool to learn what living there might be like. ...more
I've been happier with Patrick Ness, I guess is what I'll say.
This book's premise had promise. The idea to explore our expectations of fiction and hoI've been happier with Patrick Ness, I guess is what I'll say.
This book's premise had promise. The idea to explore our expectations of fiction and how paradoxical they are with our own lives was a good one, but here, it was in adequately executed. I think such a task would need more metafiction than he used, although perhaps that was because metafiction and it's true purpose is very difficult for teens to understand. It took me up to about chapter 3 to realize that the chapter summaries I was reading at the top were about the "Chosen Ones'" adventures, and that if this were a normal YA novel, that would be the story I'd be reading. I appreciated that instead, I was reading Mike's almost-average story, a feeling helped along, no doubt, by the cliche, melodramatic writing of the chapter summaries of the "other" book, the "Chosen Ones'" book. I liked the characters, and I liked that they were just trying to live out their lives, but I had a few issues with this execution, as I said before.
I didn't like that they seemed to have EVERYTHING going on. Maybe I've just forgotten how angsty being a teenager is, how it FEELS like everything IS going on, but, damn, I don't know that their lives were realistic in that so much drama happened all the time. Do teens really feel like each day gotten through is an achievement? (Here, I worry the answer is an obvious 'yes', and that I have, in fact, totally forgotten the emotional trauma of being a teenager.)
I also didn't like how the plots of the "Chosen Ones" and the normal kids intertwined. It felt odd, somehow.
I guess I liked what Ness was trying to do, but it just wasn't what I expected it would be....more
I thought this book was hilarious, and literally, painfully, real.
It was real (and really gross) in how Earl and Greg talked about girls and sex. YucI thought this book was hilarious, and literally, painfully, real.
It was real (and really gross) in how Earl and Greg talked about girls and sex. Yuck. It plot was real, the characters felt real, all of it. The ending hurt, because it was so real. Even though Greg told me multiple times that this wasn't going to have a Hollywood ending, it still kinda hurt me that the book didn't have a Hollywood ending. Earl is stuck in his life; Greg is still a lame kinda guy. Rachel still gives up and dies. But it was good, too. A refreshing dose of reality.
Greg, in the spirit of being real, was a pretty whiny, very selfish teenage boy. He acknowledged his privilege and whiny-ness occasionally, but not as much as he should've. One of my students read it after me, a girl in my regular 9th grade English class, and couldn't understand why Greg was upset at having to go to his dad's college. I had to explain to her that Greg was upset because he wanted to go to a fancier school, not the lame one for which his dad worked. For her, a girl who is going to have to scrape financially to get to college, and who is behind enough in the school system to have to work really hard to get into college, the reason for his upset was minuscule enough to be confusing, and I don't blame her.
Overall, though, the book was funny and engaging, and much, much better than The Fault in Our Stars....more
**spoiler alert** I gave this book four stars, but not because I loved it. In fact, I thought it was very very sad. The writing was ok, smooth but not**spoiler alert** I gave this book four stars, but not because I loved it. In fact, I thought it was very very sad. The writing was ok, smooth but not outstanding. The plot moved a little bit slow for a summer read, so I had to adjust my expectations there. But why it gets four stars is because of how slowly it dawned on me that my narrator was unreliable, and that in fact there was something seriously wrong with him, his wife, and their son. The book creeped me out without me even realizing that was happening, and once I did, I couldn't put the book down, as I waited to see what would happen next.
Also, side note, I looked up online what disorder Paul might have had, just out of curiosity, and found that it borrows from disorders, but is fictional. I'm really glad that's the case, not because then it doesn't exist, but because it's more creepy and intriguing as a question mark. ...more