Tuesday, 31 July 2012

"The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green

Description from Goodreads:

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

I first spotted this on a book blog, and I liked the sound of it. Eventually, I got it, and it stayed on my TBR shelf for a while, until finally I picked it up and started reading. Let me tell you, I was hooked from page one. The writing was like nothing I'd ever experienced before, and Hazel was an engaging, empathetic character who I wanted to be my friend. Unlike so many YA characters, she was intelligent, which is something that authors say their characters are, but don't give much proof of. But anyway, Hazel was funny (I love John Green's humour!) and she loved reading, something which I identify greatly with ( :D !!). Augustus Waters - excuse me while I swoon - was like the jelly to Hazel's peanut butter. They just clicked, and they got each other immediately. Augustus was so sweet and clever and funny and generally gorgeous that I hope there's an Augustus out there for me ;-) Their whole relationship was beautifully done. The thing about this book is that you think it's going to go one way, and then there's a massive twist halfway though and it goes the other way completely, and my heart just broke for Hazel and Augustus, because really, it was so unfair. They really were star-crossed lovers. This book made me laugh and cry all at once, which is a sign of a really excellent book, don't you think? If you haven't read this one, I suggest you go out and buy it right now - you won't regret it. 
I've since purchased one of John Green's other novels, Paper Towns, so expect a review in the near future. P.S. here is one of my favourite passages, a conversation between Hazel and Augustus, to show you what I mean: 
“May I see you again?" he asked. There was an endearing nervousness in his voice.
I smiled. "Sure."
"Tomorrow?" he asked.
"Patience, grasshopper," I counseled. "You don't want to seem overeager. 
"Right, that's why I said tomorrow," he said. "I want to see you again tonight. But I'm willing to wait all night and much of tomorrow." I rolled my eyes. "I'm serious," he said. 
"You don't even know me," I said. I grabbed the book from the center console. "How about I call you when I finish this?"
"But you don't even have my phone number," he said.
"I strongly suspect you wrote it in this book." 
He broke out into that goofy smile. "And you say we don't know each other.”

Rating: A+

"The Anti-Prom" by Abby McDonald

Description from Goodreads:
Popular girl Bliss Merino is ready to have the perfect prom. But when she catches her boyfriend making out with her best friend in the back of the limo, she has only one thought: revenge...Bad girl Jolene Nelson is the last person anyone expected to see at prom. Yet here she is, dressed in pink ruffles and feeling like a fool for believing that he would actually show up...Meg Rose Zuckerman is ready to stop being a wallflower and start experiencing life firsthand. But when her date stands her up, she finds herself on the outside yet again...

The Anti-Prom was a straight-up fun read that I liked. It's basically the story of three high school girls from three different 'echelons' of popularity, "bad girl" Jolene, a senior, who has family trouble and wants to get away to college, Bliss, a junior, who's popular and spoiled, who wants to get revenge on her cheating boyfriend, and Meg, also a junior, who is recovering from a tragedy and just wants to be brave. The book starts with Bliss finding her ass-hat boyfriend Cameron cheating with one of her slutty friends, and so she plans a night of revenge against the girl, but wants it all to be low-key because she's so obsessed with popularity that she doesn't want to leave the clique that she's worked so hard to be part of. I didn't really like Bliss for most of the book, as she came across as being snobby and spiteful, but there were a few times when she was generally nice, and more than a few times when she deserved a slap. She was downright nasty to Meg at one point. However, her tactics to get revenge were rather amusing, if slightly unbelievable, but hey, that's what fiction's about, right?
Jolene was the rebel who wanted to escape town, and I identified with that part of her. She was pretty dislikable though too, at times. Her romantic storyline was cool, and believable, and I really rooted for her and Dante to work out their problems. Her issues with her father and his new family were also well-written and truthful. 
Meg was the character I most identified with, even though at times I thought she was a doormat. She wanted friends, but she didn't know how to make them, and was pretty whiny about it, but aren't we all? Her romance with Scott was cute and I wanted to know their story after the book finished. 
Not all problems were resolved, but I liked the way the book ended, and how Abby McDonald left her characters. Overall, a likable and funny book from an author I'll be reading more of.

Rating: B+