Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

My Thoughts:

On page 55, Hazel says, "I was kind of scared to go down there. Listening to people howl in misery is not one of my favorite pastimes. But I went."

That's how I felt about this book. Sarah, from The Prosers, was the first person to recommend it to me, and this book kept cropping up everywhere. But I was afraid to read it. No matter how long ago my mom died of cancer, the feelings will always be raw. Plus, I've had cancer--the non-terminal kind, but still. Plus, I have kids. Enough said. But the things people said about this book intrigued me enough that I finally picked it up. 

It was wonderfully written; funny and poignant and full of characters I would love to know. I'm always happy when a young adult story can be true to life without sex, and that's not the case in this book. And it's a whole book about people who are terminally ill, so death and other difficult subjects are broached on a daily basis, so I recommend this book for adults and mature teenagers. 

5/5 stars

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling


When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

My Thoughts:

I got about 20 pages into it and put it down. I don't think I'll be picking it up again, and it makes me sad...I thought I was more than willing to give JK Rowling a fair shake. But I couldn't do it. Here's why:

1. The language. Come on, Joann. Seriously. Was it really necessary to make me wander through a cesspool just to prove to me that I'm not at Hogwarts anymore? 

2. Lack of a central character. By 20 pages in, I want to have met at least one character that I feel an inkling of sympathy for. Unfortunately, all of the people I met in Pagford were just icky. 

If I was head over heels for one of the characters, I might have pressed through the language, or vice versa. Thank you for not making it difficult to stick to my values on this one. 

Unfinished--but I give the first 20 pages 1/5 stars. Did I mention that I'm sad about that?