I do not have an obsessive personality. Wait, that might surprise some of you. Let me expound: I have some friends (you know who you are!) who discover a new musician, TV show, or author and MUST READ/WATCH/LISTEN TO ALL AVAILABLE OPTIONS AND FIND OUT EVERY BIT OF POSSIBLE INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET. While I am obsessive about many things, this does not usually end up being one of mine. Sure, I have shows and movies I enjoy following, and I have authors whose books I read regularly, but I can usually stop at will. Case in point: I read the first Twilight book in college after eschewing the series for ages. I was disgusted that I enjoyed it but wanted to know what happened…so I got my roommate to give me a synopsis of the middle books and skipped to reading the last one so as not to waste any more of my life on them than necessary. (Though in a fit of boredom my senior year, I did eventually go back and read them.) I went to see the first Twilight movie in theaters but only watched the rest of them this year on DVD. So while I often enjoy things that are popular, I usually dive in only grudgingly and sparingly.
Cue seeing mention everywhere on the internet about an author named John Green. Several blog friends said they were reading his books, and his name popped up all over NPR’s list of top 100 teen novels. Who is this John Green fellow, I thought? As I read the descriptions of his books on Amazon, I found myself adding several of them to my wishlist. Wanting an engrossing novel to read, I recently checked out 2 from my local library, which I devoured. I was hooked. So then I checked out the other 2, one of which I read in a single day (a day on which I also worked and slept, I might add). And finally my dad gifted me the most recent one on my Kindle, because it had an indefinite wait at the library and I couldn’t stand it!
After reading all five of his published books, I have to say that I think John Green deserves every bit of the hype he’s getting right now and then some. The books aren’t a series; each one features totally distinct scenarios and characters. But I absolutely could not stop after reading just one or two!
But wait, you say, isn’t this Three Book Thursday? Why yes, yes it is, which is why, without further ado, I’m going to expound on my three favorites of John Green’s books.
- The Fault in Our Stars
This is Green’s most recent book, and it was absolutely devastating and beautiful. It follows a group of kids who have or had cancer, for whom just about nothing is normal. The characters are unabashedly smart. They use big words. They read. They have conversations I could never imagine real teenagers having but would want them to. Green evidently spent a few years as a chaplain in a children’s oncology ward, so he is intimately familiar with the situations he outlines in this book. The love in this book is so raw and true. I found myself sobbing through about the last 25% of this book, but I would read it again in a heartbeat. That’s when you know a book is good.
- Will Grayson, Will Grayson
This book was a collaboration between John Green and David Levithan, with each author tackling the story of one of the Will Graysons (yes, there are two, and yes, they meet in the novel.) Some people told me that this was their least favorite of Green’s books, but I was charmed by it. The best way I can think to describe this book is as delightfully improbable. In fact, I’d describe most of Green’s books that way! I don’t know that I’ve read a book with a gay protagonist before, but Tiny Cooper won me over. This was a refreshingly modern story that I think would bring a lot of hope to some high school students who feel like outcasts.
- Looking for Alaska
This was John Green’s first book, which means I read it first. I always had a soft spot in my heart for the first Harry Potter book, and I think I love this one for a similar reason: the magical world was so new to me that I couldn’t help but fall head over heels. I also liked that this one took place at a) a boarding school and b) in Alabama. Though my MSMS experience was nothing like the one these pranksters had at the fictionalized version of Indian Creek, it still brought back some nice nostalgia. And if you didn’t go to boarding school, this might make you wish you had. I’ve struggled before reading books with male main characters, but this one sucked me right in. I love the very specific quirks Green assigns to his characters; Miles’ is that he memorizes famous people’s last words. The quirk is not necessarily a plot element, but it weaves itself in there and makes itself memorable.