John Green: Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns & The Fault in Our Stars.

I have been a fan of John Green and his books for a while now, so I thought I would do a little review on his books. However, I’m still reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson so that review will be done separately. John Green is now known by pretty much everyone, his books have grown in success and popularity over the years and with the success of The Fault in Our Stars the film, it is fair to say that now John Green can do no wrong.

Looking for Alaska is book that I loved dearly. It was gripping, hilarious and heart breaking. One thing I especially loved about this book was the male characters, Miles, Chip and Takumi, they were hilarious, the greatest friends and never ceased to put a smile on my face. The females of the book, specifically Alaska and Lara, were also enjoyable to read, I thought that Alaska’s feminist behaviour was refreshing in a female character and Lara’s innocence was adorable. However, Alaska was one of those characters that you both like and hate at the same time. Though she was emotionally scarred and traumatised over the death of her mother at a young age and seems to have affected her life throughout, she had a terrible mean streak and could be quite bossy, moody and harsh to her friends. Despite all, it was upsetting when she died, and the way her friends, especially Miles and Chip had to deal with her death, was heart breaking. Their search for what really happened to her was admirable and proved that some things can never be solved. It is Miles who on this journey, comes to understand that though he loved Alaska, she was not perfect and some people, no matter how much you try, are unfixable. She saw a way out and she took it, she didn’t want to continue living with the terrible weight upon her shoulders. However, despite her strong sense of who she was, her eccentric personality, for me personally, she’s not one of my favourite females created by John Green. It was the way she treated her friends and herself for that matter, that annoyed me because despite her love of books and her closeness to her friends, it was her moodiness and harsh streak that lost me. Overall, this book is one of my favourite John Green books; I loved the whole plot, the high school and the search for the great perhaps. It was a thought provoking book and Miles was an interesting character to follow, through his conflicting emotions, his friendship with Chip and Takumi, and his love for Alaska.

An Abundance of Katherine’s is another one of my favourites. This book was absolutely hilarious. Firstly, Colin is a depressed teenager who wishes to be a genius, because he is seen as a child-prodigy but he wallows in the fact that he hasn’t done so yet. Fed up of feeling terrible due his multiple relationships and breakups with girls called Katherine, Hassan, his hilariously funny best friend, decides they should go on a road trip. Hassan was hands down, my favourite character in this book; he was Colin’s lazy, funny and sarcastically supportive best friend. Having various nicknames for Colin, many of them in Arabic and German, Hassan is Colin’s helping hand, along with Lindsey, in pushing Colin to find his true identity. A book about self discovery and learning not to pigeon hole yourself, not to set great burdens on your mind and to never sacrifice yourself for what someone else wants you to be. It’s a book that teaches you not to live up to others expectations, but your own and even if things don’t go as you planned, that’s okay too. Colin was a likable character who is in search for his missing piece and in the novel he tries to work out why his relationships failed, he wants to find an equation that will make him a genius but in doing so, he finds that life is not about striving to be unique and special. With the help of his friends, Hassan and Lindsey, he discovers that it’s okay to be quite normal and that he is so in the best way possible. Lindsey is one of my favourite female character’s of John Green’s, her and Hazel from The Fault in Our Stars. Lindsey is someone Colin and Hassan meet on their road trip in Tennessee, Gutshot and she is a paramedic-in-training. On one of her tours of Gutshot, she takes Colin and Hassan and the three become friends. Colin and Hassan stay at Lindsey’s, working with her mother to help pay for their staying. In the end, Lindsey helps Colin realise that it’s okay to be who you are and when she finds that her current boyfriend, The Other Colin, was cheating on her with her friend, Katrina (who was supposed to be dating Hassan), she allows herself to finally accept who she herself is, inspired by Colin. So, they both help each other find who they really are, having a deep connection with someone other than a girl named Katherine, Colin finds peace and happiness. Rather the pursuit of finding what makes him different, he settles for what makes him happy.

Paper Towns was an interesting and gripping book. Mysterious from the onset, it held my attention all the way through. The book’s protagonist, Quentin or Q, has a crush on his neighbour Margo, who suddenly disappears the day after their crazy night wrecking revenge and hilarious fun. However, when she disappears, Q becomes obsessed with finding her, resulting in him neglecting school and his friends, as he searches through the clues she left him. Ben Starling is one of Q’s best friends and he helps him find Margo. In the process of helping, he is able to go to prom and have a great time, with Lacey, a girl he’d always wanted to have the attention of. Lacey was one of Margo’s closest friends; however they had a difficult relationship but despite this Lacey cares for Margo and wishes to find her. In the end, she becomes close to the three boys and becomes a developed, likable person. Marcus or ‘Radar’ is another of Q’s best friends, who is very good at editing things on Omnictionary. He helps his friends find Margo and holds a deeper insight into Q and his motives, questioning why he was so obsessed and expressed his thoughts on Q’s selfishness. At first, his friends help him but soon it appears that Q’s life has been taken over by this obsession, which causes him to picture Margo in this perfect and idealistic way, which at the end of the novel, when they finally find her, are shattered. To be honest, Margo, like Alaska annoyed me, she at first started off as this really cool character but when they finally find her, she turns out to be ungrateful, stating that she did not expect the clues to be followed as she did not leave them intentionally. She is upset that no one seems to understand her, but really that’s her own fault, for creating a fake persona to act as. Already having run away from home multiple times, her parents aren’t unaccustomed to their daughter’s sudden disappearances and Margo acted as though her behaviour was nothing out of the rational. She is angry at the group and sees their finding of her, a disturbance. Of course, this is deeply upsetting for her friends, who end up leaving to stay in a motel. Q eventually comes to realise that his image of her was fake, just like she was, the image she had painted for everyone else to see. Hurt and feeling as if he’s wasted his time, Margo argues that Q only wanted to be the hero and save her, to be the one she came to and listened to. However, it is not so and the two part ways, with Q seeing the importance of his own life, as opposed to hers over his, and Margo going to New York City. In the end, I was happy with the book and I did enjoy it, however I noticed that I never seemed to like the main female character, apart from Lindsey in An Abundance of Katherine’s. In Looking for Alaska, I preferred Lara and in Paper Towns, I loved Lacey. So, when I looked forwards to reading The Fault in Our Stars, I was praying Hazel would be a character I could relate to and find likeable.

The Fault in Our Stars is my absolute favourite of John Green’s books. It made me smile, laugh and cry; I loved it from the start to the end. This book was heart breaking and uplifting, it follows the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster who suffers with thyroid cancer. Unfortunately, the cancer has spread to her lungs and will eventually kill her. Already knowing so was deeply upsetting, to think that there are people out there living with such diseases. As someone who watched a family member suffer with breast cancer, it brought back many memories and made this book all the more relatable and touching. Hazel attends a cancer patient support group, which she thinks is pointless but she goes because her mother wants her too. One day, at one of the group’s meetings with the hilarious Patrick as the leader, Hazel meets Augustus Walters. His osteosarcoma caused him to lose his leg and he comes in support of his friend, Isaac, who is going to lose his remaining eye to cancer. Hazel and Augustus share a connection almost immediately and she goes over to his house, discovering each of their favourite books. Hazel recommends that Augustus reads An Imperial Affliction, a novel written by Peter Van Houten, a book she loves and is about a girl who suffers with cancer. Hazel and Augustus grow closer as friends and both begin to fall for each other. The three of them, Hazel, Augustus and Isaac form a strong friendship and Hazel and Augustus help Isaac deal with his breakup and thought of losing his eye. I absolutely loved their gradual friendship and then their relationship as two people who love each other, it was touching. From their travels to Amsterdam, to their love of books and shared dealing with cancer, their bond grows and develops into something beautiful and heart warming. With the degrading nature of Augustus’ condition despite being cleared earlier, Hazel has to deal with the thought of losing him, while her own health though it’s been prolonged, will soon turn for the same fate. I loved everything about this book, I loved Hazel and she is my favourite of John Green’s female characters. She was smart and witty, strong and non-conformist, she shows her many sides. Though at first hesitant about being in a relationship, she eventually lets Augustus into her heart and the two share a deep and real relationship, though short lived because of Augustus death, as Hazel said, she is able to have her ‘forever’, within a number of days. The book literally tore my heart out with his death and the letter he leaves Hazel. I prefer the book’s ending, though I understand the importance of their ‘okay’, I prefer the, ‘I do Augustus. I do.’ It just carried more weight. As all of John Green’s books they leave you thinking about your own life and at the end of this book, you realise that though life is a tough place and that you will get hurt, you can choose who hurts you. Life isn’t only about leaving your mark on the Earth, as Augustus wanted to do; it’s about having a connection to the people around you. They are your mark and will forever remember you, that is important. So, overall, The Fault in Our Stars is my favourite of John Green’s books, despite liking each of them for different reasons, and though I haven’t finished Will Grayson Will Grayson, I am sure I will like it.

Finally, I would definitely recommend reading John Green’s novels, though they are heart breaking for different reasons, they are also uplifting, thought provoking and moving. They will leave a mark on your heart and have you wishing for more, but also appreciating the perfect way he ends each book. So, go ahead and grab your copies!

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