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Looking for Alaska – John Green

Looking for Alaska – John GreenTitle: Looking for Alaska by John Green
Publishing Info: March 3, 2005 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 2, 2017
Related Posts: The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines, Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .
After. Nothing is ever the same.

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LOOKING FOR ALASKA is one of the better John Green books I’ve read (the first being WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON) but I just still don’t love John Green’s writing. Actually, mostly I don’t like his characters and their interactions with each other. Each John Green book that I read is quite different and there are things I enjoy and things that I don’t in each one, but ultimately, I’ve just never fallen in love with any of his characters or novels, but I still keep trying!

Don’t hate me buuuut…. Alaska bothered me. Heck, she even bothered her friends. It was another character who was idealized despite her flaws, which I guess happens all the time in books, but there’s just something about the way it all happens in John Green’s writing that I don’t like. I went into this with an open mind and still had a hard time with his characters. I’m also sure that there’s kind of something about Alaska that you’re not supposed to like but there’s still the matter that Miles idealizes her for seemingly no reason and I just don’t like the way these characters come off as I’m reading. It’s just the writing, I think.

That being said, I did still enjoy it! It wasn’t amazing and didn’t make me feel all the feels but it was an interesting story and I actually enjoyed every other character except for Alaska (which kind of felt like I was missing whole point of the book). It was a quick read and full of interesting points but I also still had issues with parts of the book and how everything came together. I also feel like I might have enjoyed reading this more as an actual teen (I would have been 18 if I had read this the year that it was released) like a lot of my friends did but I guess that’s something that I can never know!

The “After” didn’t kick me in the feels like I knew it was supposed to (I figured it would be something like that but still didn’t know what was coming) and it felt a little anti-climactic. I’m glad that it read it but it wasn’t a stand-out read for me and while I didn’t find anything “wrong” with it, it just wasn’t a book that I really connected to. I’m glad my curiosity was satiated and that I still know my feelings about John Green’s books despite continuing to try them. It’s like… I’m happy that I keep picking them up but they’re still not impressive to me.

Overall, this story did have more characters that I could relate to than most and felt like one of the least pretentious books so that was a good experience! Still the black sheep on so many things, as always, but I’m okay with that. Sometimes being the black sheep on very popular authors lets me know that I’m still reading for me and understanding what I personally enjoy and not just liking a book because everyone else does, so it’s always an interesting experience!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Attempting John Green. I keep promising to give up his books and yet I also keep trying to read them and hoping to enjoy one a little bit more. I actually have zero interest in read TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN so that’s not on my TBR but this book wasn’t either. I guess we’ll see!
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. I just often don’t feel like the characters in these books are realistic. This was a bit better than most, to be honest, but I was still lacking some of that in Alaska. I guess that’s also not fair for me to say because I’m sure there are many Alaskas in the world but they’re also not people I relate to so I just didn’t enjoy it.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

Gosh, there are just soooo many John Green fans out there and I still can’t bring myself to be one of them. You’ll get nothing but an honest review from me but I pretty much know where I stand here.

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BOOKS LIKE LOOKING FOR ALASKA

          

Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green & David Levithan

Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green & David LevithanTitle: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green, David Levithan
Publishing Info: April 6, 2010 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 6, 2015
Related Posts: The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines, Looking for Alaska

Will Grayson meets Will Grayson. One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers are about to cross paths. From that moment on, their world will collide and lives intertwine.
It's not that far from Evanston to Naperville, but Chicago suburbanites Will Grayson and Will Grayson might as well live on different planets. When fate delivers them both to the same surprising crossroads, the Will Graysons find their lives overlapping and hurtling in new and unexpected directions. With a push from friends new and old - including the massive, and massively fabulous, Tiny Cooper, offensive lineman and musical theater auteur extraordinaire - Will and Will begin building toward respective romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history's most awesome high school musical.

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Full disclosure: I really only read this book because of the audiobook narrators. I’ve really struck out with both authors on multiple occasions (not terrible but enough to make me feel like I wasn’t anxious to pick up anything else by them) so I was super nervous to read WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON… But with two of my favorite audio narrators ever (Nick Podehl and MacLeod Andrews), I knew I had to give it a shot!

I was actually… pleasantly surprised! WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON was enjoyable from start to finish and it ended up being a really quick read/listen for me. I wasn’t totally in love with the book since Will Grayson #2 was a bit hard to like sometimes due to his generally surly demeanor and Will Grayson #1 was a bit more closed off… But it was also really interested to watch those characters change and grow throughout the book! I really did like the character development, seeing how their relationships changed, and how they really grew up and gained confidence along the way.

The story takes place in the suburbs of Chicago which is where I’m from so really I was dying for more specific locations so I could really put myself in the book! Will Grayson #2 is from Naperville which I’ve known all my life, I have relatives who live there, and that’s also where my husband used to live so I was trying to dissect which high school he went to but there really weren’t any clues given. I guess it’s probably better and more universal not to reference a specific high school or place when referencing a real town but I really wanted to pretend like I knew exactly where Will Grayson lived!

I think I was hoping for a quicker merge of the two Will Grayson story lines. Now that I’m looking back, I can’t remember exactly how long it took them to meet (halfway through the book? Not quite as far?) but I do remember wishing it had been just a bit sooner. I also was imagining their stories would be much more connected. They aren’t quite a part of each other’s lives but they do end up with mutual friends/acquaintances from their meeting.

Overall, the book was fun, quick, and I really did enjoy from start to finish. There were some small moments where I think I had expectations that didn’t quite pan out (in general, just my impression of what the book was going to be) so I wasn’t as invested as I possibly could have been. I also had the hang-up that I wasn’t a huge fan of either author before starting but it was kind of nice to have this book renew my faith a bit! I don’t know if I’m motivated to pick up more from either author but it was a very pleasant experience and a really nice read!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl are two of my favorite audiobook narrators and really they’re the sole reason why I decided to grab this book on sale from Audible! They were both stellar, as always, and I just love the amount of feeling and sincerity each narrator puts into the character. They really do make the characters come alive and feel like real people and not just like I’m listening to someone read me pages from a book. I love how they really bring the story to life and almost make me feel like I’m watching a movie instead of listening to a book! It was so strange to hear Nick Podehl as an incredibly surly teenager since I’m so used to listening to his voice as a jollier character in Kvothe from Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle! I do love that each time I listen to these narrators, the characters really do feel totally different from previous listens as well.
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Will Grayson #1 (Evanston) // Character Obsessions: Friendship (with Tiny), keeping his mouth shut, maintaining a low profile. 
I kind of felt for Will Grayson #1. One of his general rules is to keep his mouth shut so as not to draw attention to himself and that’s really something that I sort of ended up doing a lot in my life. I suppose not as much to disappear as to avoid conflict, but I definitely did connect to him more than I did to the other Will. It was interesting to see his range of emotion and how hard it was for him to personally connect with other people and I thought it was really neat to watch him allow those feelings to come through.
Will Grayson #2 (Naperville) // Character Obsessions: Isaac, avoiding people, generally being surly. 
Ooh Will Grayson #2 was really hard for me to like at first — and I know it’s supposed to be that way. He’s incredibly unhappy with most aspects of his life and it causes him to treat other people terribly. I really did like that he ended up coming around and really finding ways to be happy, find true confidence, and making a few friends!

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Kept Me Hooked On: John Green. I had totally written off John Green as a “not for me” author. I read THE FAULT IN OUR STARS and AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES and both were okay books but nothing stellar. I think this is my favorite of his works so far. Still not amazing for me but it was the one that I’ve enjoyed reading the most to date.
Left Me Wanting More: Crossing paths. I was expecting and had hoped for more of a Will/Will friendship. Although they met and ended up being connected to each other’s lives, they really didn’t end up becoming friends or directly affecting each other’s paths.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This is actually one I’d recommend! If you’re meh about John Green like I was, this may be a nice book to try if you’re thinking about taking another chance. Obviously I recommend the audio because the two narrators are just wonderful! If you have positive to no opinions about either author, I think this could be a good read for you! So many other people loved it and I really see why.

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BOOKS LIKE WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE    BETTER OFF FRIENDS

If You Liked… The Fault in Our Stars

One of my favorite parts about being a book blogger is sharing the books that I love with others. I absolutely love sharing my favorite reads and recommending them to others who are looking to fall in love with a new book! With all of these amazing YA adaptations coming out recently, I know a lot of people are looking for more books similar to the movies that have hit the silver screen, so for all those looking for books similar to your blockbuster favorites, I’ve got some recommendations lined up for you!

8 BOOKS TO READ IF YOU LIKED THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

My recommendations for what to read after THE FAULT IN OUR STARS may not be the books you’d immediately jump to. I feel like it’s easy to pick another book that tells the tale of struggling with cancer, but I felt like TFIOS had a story that went beyond a “cancer story”. It was about two teens who has this awful thing thrown at them, but they’re also still trying to figure out who they are in the world and how they can make an impact. There’s a stress that time may be an issue and they need to make the most of their own lives as well as their time with friends and family. There’s a lot of self-discovery, a solid romance, and some great friendships as well as personal struggles and outside forces turning their entire lives upside down, so with that in mind… Here are my hand-picked of 8 books to read if you liked THE FAULT IN OUR STARS!

books like the fault in our stars


IF YOU LIKED THE FAULT IN OUR STARS…

Try… ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

This book was an emotional roller coaster for me, but in a good way. The book is set in the Midwest in the 1980s, but if you’re afraid that you won’t connect with that, don’t fret — it’s not overly fraught with pop culture references (though the music selections are excellent). It has plenty of tender moments, some real character growth, and plenty of moments that will tug at your heartstrings. Rainbow Rowell just has an amazing way of stringing words and sentences together and this book is bound to have you mesmerized!

Try… IF I STAY by Gayle Forman.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

IF I STAY is another BIG book out right now with its movie adaptation just hitting the big screen! It’s also another one of my favorite books EVER. Gayle Forman is a fantastic writer and this book really drew me in to YA contemporary when I was really hardcore into paranormal and dystopian. It’s chock full of emotion — both the good times and the bad. I really fell in love with these characters and this family AND this romance. IF I STAY is not one to miss and I couldn’t be happier that this book from Gayle Forman is now on the big screen!

Try… THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS by Sarah Ockler.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

This book. I went through such a range of emotions while reading it! It has a fantastic family dynamic featuring Jude, her mother, her father who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and her three older sisters who tell her to stay away from the Vargas boys. When Emilio Vargas happens to be the only person who can help Jude and her father finish his motorcycle… Jude knows she’s in trouble. THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS is one of my favorite books for the content, the emotional connection, the romance, the friendship, the family dynamic… Everything about this book was perfect for me!

Try… WILD AWAKE by Hilary T. Smith.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

WILD AWAKE was another book that totally took me by storm. I literally read it cover to cover in one afternoon — I just couldn’t put it down! The book is about a girl named Kiri who essentially has the house to herself when her parents go on vacation. Instead of what you’d presume teenagers would do (throw a party), Kiri is content mastering the piano for hours a day… Until someone calls asking about her sister who had died a few years back and Kiri’s world quickly turns upside down. It’s a bit of a wild ride and incredible to see the Kiri at the beginning of the book and at the end.

Try… THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katja Millay.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

Katja Millay has a fantastic way with words and characters. This book was incredibly beautiful and I totally fell head over heels with it when I first read it. I totally got lost in the writing and not only that but her characters just felt so incredibly real. Even the secondary characters really made an impact on me. The book has such a level of depth that I really got lost in the world that Katja Millay created and didn’t want it to end. I was rooting for these two characters who felt like big, gaping holes of themselves were missing and they came together in the most unexpected way. Truly wonderful.
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Try… CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL by Louise Rozett.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

The first in a series, CONFESSIONS starts off with Rose, a freshman in high school after she lost her father when he went overseas to war. Her family is trying their best to hold it together, but no one is really handling it in the same way. When Rose becomes the victim of a bully, even more drama erupts in her life and she has to figure out how to grieve, how to reunite her family, and how to deal with friend and bully drama all at once. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the REALLY cute guy who she has a major crush on who’s taken a liking to her…

Try… SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL by Trish Doller.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

Another war-related book (chosen coincidentally)… Told from the POV of Travis who has just returned back home on leave from the army. Travis suffers from PTSD and tries not to let his family or friends catch on. He also has to figure out his place back home since when he left for the army, everything seems to have changed. I was really pleasantly surprised by this one since I don’t normally connect with military themes, but SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL was realistic, mature, powerful, and emotional as well. There’s a great romance and though it’s not a great family dynamic and Travis struggles to reunite with his friends, I loved how Travis strengthened the relationships he valued and realized which ones to let go.

Try… ALTHEA & OLIVER by Cristina Moracho.
Review (to be posted!) // Goodreads // Amazon

ALTHEA & OLIVER doesn’t release until October, but it’s one that really stuck with me lately. This one is maybe a bit more on the mature side (some content may be a bit mature for younger teens) but I really enjoyed this one quite a bit. ALTHEA & OLIVER follows the two title characters through the roughest patch of their friendship, the summer before and fall of their junior year of high school. This book was raw and real and I loved Cristina Moracho’s writing. Keep your eyes peeled for this one releasing October 2014!


Well, I hope some of these recommendations pointed you in the right direction! They’re some of the books that give me the biggest feels and share a lot of the same qualities that THE FAULT IN OUR STARS does. Which books would you recommend for fans of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS? Anything in particular stick out?

Looking for more recommendations? Check out my previous list of recs below!

 

An Abundance of Katherines – John Green

An Abundance of Katherines – John GreenTitle: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Publishing Info: September 21, 2006 by Penguin
Source: Library
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 15, 2012
Related Posts: The Fault in Our Stars, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Looking for Alaska

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun ? but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself by Printz medalist John Green, acclaimed author of Looking for Alaska.

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Well my friends, this will be my last John Green book. I just don’t care for his style of writing and I almost find it surprising that so many other people that I share very similar tastes with do.

When I picked up AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES, I was hoping for something super nerdy, like the Big Bang Theory or something. I can do nerdy. I loved READY PLAYER ONE. But I felt like we never got into the whole math behind it until later. I had really wanted it to be the underlying theme of the whole book and it kind of seemed like an afterthought.

Also, why nineteen Katherines. NINETEEN? Really. You’re gonna sit there and tell me that one boy can not only meet but date nineteen Katherine’s, all of which spell their name exactly the same way. In this day and age when people are spelling names in every which way possible, I don’t believe. Call me a skeptic, but I think I’m being reasonable. And why? What’s so special about a Katherine? I just didn’t get the whole premise behind it and I was hoping for some kind of humorous explanation for it. I was let down.

I was also upset with Colin, who whined the whole book. The rest of the characters were fine, but a whiny MC? No thanks. ALSO upset by the whole book taking place in Tennessee. At first I was like, Oh. It’s a road trip. Huh, well okay, I can handle road trip. And then we spent the whole time in Gutshot, TN. Totally not into it.

The book was okay, but not better than okay at all for me. I was disappointed by a lot of it.

Audiobook impressions: Jeff Woodman did a pretty good job with all of the voices. He had very distinct voices for all of the characters and it was really easy to follow along with. They also did this cool thing when the characters were on the phone so the person on the other end sounded really distant. Fun accents and even speech impediments for those who have them. The narration was actually pretty enjoyable.

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Colin Singleton: Colin was way, way too whiny for me. You want to know how to stop getting dumped by Katherines? Stop dating Katherines. You’re probably getting dumped because you’re forcing relationships by dating only girls with exact same name spelled the exact same way. That’s not how it works!
Hassan: He was a pretty nice comic relief, though we do see a little bit more to him here and there. I like that even though he’s the funny one, he’s Colin’s voice of reason because Colin can’t see it himself.
Lindsay: I think Lindsay was my favorite character. She seemed the most dynamic and she really was the easiest person to like, for me. I think I would have actually been a lot more interested if it had been Lindsay’s story we got instead of Colin’s. I would have loved to see the story of a girl in Gutshot, TN dating some QB idiot who has an interesting summer when these two random guys show up from Chicago, one of them with a crazy theory. THAT story I would have liked much more.

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Get it from the library.

It was okay… but not something that I feel I can recommend. I totally re-envisioned the whole story from Lindsey’s perspective and it just seemed so much more interesting. John Green is a big hit but maybe his books just aren’t for me!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES

The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

The Fault In Our Stars – John GreenTitle: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Publishing Info: January 10, 2012 by Penguin
Source: Library
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 1, 2012
Related Posts: An Abundance of Katherines, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Looking for Alaska

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumors 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 tumors 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

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Please don’t bring out the torches and pitchforks but… I totally didn’t like THE FAULT IN OUR STARS as much as I had hoped. For everything I had heard about it, the rave reviews, everyone who was touched by it, I feel like there were so many things that I just found not to like about it.

First and foremost, I borrowed this from the library as an audiobook. To be fair, I probably shouldn’t have listened to the book and I should have actually read the book. I really didn’t like the narrator, Kate Rudd (actually hated at the beginning). Her voice was just fine, but it was a little too exact in pronunciation so I felt like I was listening to a motivational tape or something. I also really didn’t like her voices for Augustus or Isaac at all. Isaac was a really whiny voice and Augustus just sounded kind of dopey. Also, all of the “okay” sequences between Hazel and Augustus sounded so stiff and not emotional at all and always with the same exact inflection. I just really didn’t think she did a good job.

Looking past the narration, there were also quite a few things that bothered me. I felt like John Green had big word-itis in this book. Has anyone ever seen that episode of Friends where Joey uses the thesaurus to write an adoption recommendation letter for Monica & Chandler? That’s how I felt about the choice of words in this book. Now, now, I know Hazel is supposed to be “not-your-ordinary-16-year-old-girl”. She doesn’t have the social life to pick up the common teenage “OMG” aspect, but still. She’s 16. I just didn’t relate to the fact that she (and Augustus too) seemed to have a vastly larger vocabulary than any of their peers, and even the adults in this book were dumbed down by their knowledge as well as their struggle with their respective cancers. I just really felt like the writing was a bit — dare I say — pretentious. I really just didn’t care for a lot of it, actually.

I really didn’t enjoy the trip to Amsterdam much either. The whole thing just felt unnecessary and that the whole thing could have taken place in the US.  I know, I know, there were obvious reasons for it but I totally wasn’t digging it.

And don’t get me wrong, it has nothing to do with the fact that it was a sadder or more serious story than I normally read. I quite enjoy the serious turn on quite a few books, but I don’t know… I just never really got into it. And also has nothing to do with cancer as the main focus – Please – Lurleen McDaniels books were my bread and butter as an adolescent. I just never made a real connection with the characters.

I think I complained a bit too much in this review… But I actually was bothered by quite a bit. That being said, I did cry. I sobbed at the ultimate sobbing point of the book and totally could not help it! And I did end up enjoying quite a bit of the book. I was just let down quite a bit since everyone was giving it 4.5 or 5 stars reviews. I disappointed myself by expecting too much!

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Hazel // Well, I kind of already summed it up a bit. I just never identified with Hazel, and I really, really wanted to. Broken but strong, stoic but emotional – How could I not? But really somehow I didn’t. I didn’t care for how she switched from extremely large words to calling someone a “doucheface”. I felt like it was quite a polar opposite that didn’t transition well.
Augustus // Yet again, just didn’t really connect. I didn’t care for the whole metaphor of the cigarettes… I like his story a bit more than Hazel’s… but right from the start, he didn’t stand a chance of me liking him because of his name. I just didn’t like the name Augustus and to shorten it to Gus? That’s even worse. The only Gus I’ve ever known was the mouse in Cinderella!
Isaac // I actually liked Isaac the most out of the teen characters. He was a bit simpler, as it should have been.

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Borrow it

Well, I suppose the hype killed this one for me a little bit. I also MAY not be a John Green fan. (I know there are more than one of us out there!) I’d say maybe borrow this one before you buy it!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE FAULT IN OUR STARS