vlogbrothers since 2007 (a nerdfighter, if you will), and yet somehow in all that time I have never read any of John Green's books. I don't think I even have a good reason why not. It's true that I am not a massive fan of contemporary, but I have been known to read it and enjoy it from time to time, so that's not it. I guess I just... never got around to it. But finally FINALLY I was able to make the time in my reading schedule. And I knew I wanted to read them back-to-back, in chronological order, to get the full John Green Experience. Thus became what I have dubbed, The Great John Green Read of 2014.
I read all five of John Green's novels (Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Will Grayson, Will Grayson [with David Levithan], and The Fault in Our Stars) in a two week period (I have not read the short story that he wrote for the anthology, Let It Snow; maybe another time). First thoughts? I loved them all!! Was there any doubt? Maybe a little bit because as I mentioned earlier, contemporary isn't my strong suit. But I really and truly did enjoy his books and the experience of reading them back-to-back on the whole. They were all very memorable and meaningful in their own way.
None of his novels stand out in my mind as head over heels better than the others. I had been sort of expecting John Green's writing to get better and better with each book, but I thought his writing was strong since the beginning and I thought all five novels were pretty on par with each other. If pressed, I would probably say The Fault in Our Stars was my favourite though. I adored many of John Green's characters and many will endure in my memory, but I would say Hazel and Augustus were my favourites of the lot (with maybe the exception of Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson) and so that is why The Fault in Our Stars edges out the rest.
Besides his characters, the other main strength of John Green's novels has got to be their thoughtfulness, as illuminated by some truly brilliant quotes and passages. It's not very often that I read books that make me THINK like these novels did. Actually, I really cannot think of the last time I read a book that was so thought-provoking. A book that had me stuck in my head for hours, pondering profoundly these truths that were laid out so prudently. Normally, I read to escape. But in this experience I learned the value in reading for meditation. It was enlightening and I liked it.
I guess the only slight issue that I had with John Green's writing is that the characters weren't always believably adolescent. Real life teenagers do not talk like they do in John Green's books. The vast majority of adults don't talk like that either, for that matter. But I guess if you're going to be writing a novel in which the characters contemplate the meaning of life and have existential crises and whatnot, then you're going to need to have some pretty intellectual and enlightened characters. So I can let it slide mostly.
Overall, The Great John Green Read of 2014 was a complete success and my only regret is that it was over too quickly and who knows when we'll get the next novel from John Green. Though I have always claimed to be a fan of John Green, I feel like I can now say that I am a legit fan of his books, his writing, his characters, and his thoughtfulness. I'm also super stoked to see The Fault in Our Stars movie, which I am cautiously hopeful will be a good adaptation! So I'm curious: how many of John Green's books have you read and which is your favourite?